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3 Tips to Optimize Sponsor Relations and Strategic Alignment

Alignment is everything, and it all starts with the sponsor. Communicating with sponsors is a linchpin of portfolio management according to David Wakeman in a post for Voices on Project Management. If your project matches your strategy, then it’s on to bigger and better things. Wakeman offers three tips to keep things in sync.

Three Threads of Sponsor Relations

  1. Tough questions
  2. Being busy
  3. Talking through change

Sometimes sponsors are less than forthcoming with answers when questioned about a particular project, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get to the bottom of things. You won’t exactly have to cajole sponsors, but there are effective ways of framing the question – around resource and time constraints, around priorities, or to clarify requirements, goals, or outcomes.

Then there’s the excuse of being busy. Everyone’s busy – you, the sponsor, and the project team. This is no excuse for not communicating. Being busy is actually the reason to be communicating at all! When the demands of work are high, the chances of wasted effort are too. To keep everyone on the same page, there need to be consistent reporting efforts and regular meetings. Management should take a timeout to digest new information to adjust to changing circumstances. “Religiously” is the word Wakeman uses to describe how meetings and commitments should be handled with each sponsor.

Third, embracing change is never easy, especially when it’s your project that is shelved for no particular reason other than a vague mention of “misalignment.” It’s at these moments that communication is most crucial with sponsors. Are the proposed changes going to impact the organization in a positive way? Will new opportunities unfold and has a more strategic form of alignment been achieved?

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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