Have you ever been part of a team that is implementing or using a new tool or methodology and one of your team members is super excited and supportive of the new tool or methodology? This person may even be you! They do not take ‘no’ for an answer, and they spend their time encouraging others and keeping everyone’s eyes on the prize. This person is the “Champion” and there may be more than one. You want to have these people on your team.
Similarly, project management champions are those individuals who have been formally or informally appointed to drive Project Management improvement within your team or organization. As I outline in my previous blog post on the 5 Critical Success Factors for Project Management Improvement – “Project management champions go above and beyond their typical role to advocate and ensure the success of project management within the organization. In the case of tackling project management improvement, they are the individuals who use their position and expertise to create a winning environment. The more project management champions you have and the more senior they are, the better!”
6 Attributes of Great Project Management Champions
Project management champions can come in all shapes and sizes, from all areas of the business. However, there are several attributes you should look for in your project management champion:
- An effective and influential communicator, someone who can negotiate through office politics and move detractors to promoters.
- A valued member of the organization who is respected overall and whose ideas are seen by the wider team as being important and worthwhile.
- An intelligent individual who has a strong understanding of project management and the goals the team are working towards.
- A motivational and inspirational person who is positive and willing to coach and support the team through change.
- Someone who is passionate about the effort and truly believes in the change and can see the endgame.
- Someone with leadership qualities who does not take “no” for an answer.
The stronger and more influential your champion is, the more likely you are to achieve success. We have found this within the BrightWork customer base. Those customers who have a champion that holds a leading role within an organization are more likely to achieve success and faster. At Ascend Performance Materials, they found that having a project management champion in the form of the company CIO has “helped to raise visibility of the application across the organization” with other departments wanting to adopt the new project management solution and method.
What’s the difference between a project manager and a project champion?
It is important to call out that the project management champion isn’t always the project manager on the project. Yes, they may have similar traits, but whilst the project manager has a formal role to lead the project, the champion doesn’t always have a formal role. It is the project manager’s job to see the project through and formally plan and manage it. The project management champion doesn’t have these responsibilities, unless of course they are also the project manager or have been assigned project responsibilities. The project management champion must also understand and respect the individual and organizational barriers to project management change which isn’t necessarily something a project manager needs to do. Doing this will allow them to plan for objection handling, ultimately breaking the barriers to changing or implementing project management.