You are ready to start a new project – what’s next? You should formally initiate the project so you know what you’re getting into as a project manager before you officially start. This step will help to secure approval and resources for the project, and ideally enlist the support of someone to sponsor the project for you.
Why do you need a project sponsor?
The sponsor will ultimately decide if the project is going to go ahead or will bring you in front of the people that can make that determination. The sponsor should also be able to free or allocate the people you need to work on the project and free up any other resources such as the budget.
During the process, you’ve also started to work and collaborate with your project sponsor through this approval and resourcing set of steps. This is a very important relationship for you to have. From time to time, you will need this air cover.
How do you secure project sponsorship?
It’s very likely that you will at least need a meeting with the project sponsor. It’s also possible that the sponsor will request a written project proposal, a project charter or a project statement.
Even if the sponsor does not request this document, it’s a good idea to produce one for yourself and the rest of the project team.
A project charter or statement may well contain the following information:
- Project identification
- Project description
- Project objectives, goals, deliverables
- Priority of the project
- Organization/customer that the project is for
- Proposed project manager
- Type of the project
- Status of the project
- When the project should start
- When the project is due to finish
- Any other assumptions about the project.
Certain projects will also require you to have a high-level plan at this early stage. The amount of information and process needed for this first step will depend on the project in hand, the organization you’re working for and it will, of course, depend on the preferences of the project sponsor you’re trying to sign up. The ideal minimum exit criteria for this step is that you get the project approved and sponsored.
You have now taken the first step as a new project manager. Congratulations on having started the journey.
Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our free book, Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook.