The sponsor of your project management office (PMO) can have a huge influence on the success of your office and the projects you oversee. Knowing how to engage with your PMO’s sponsor should build a positive and productive relationship.
In an existing PMO, your sponsor may be disengaged already and you need to build up the relationship. When you’re creating a PMO from scratch, you want to start on the right foot with your sponsor and get the engagement right from the beginning.
To help you establish or re-establish a strong relationship with your office sponsor, we’re going be looking at:
Why you need to engage with your PMO sponsor
Techniques to effectively engage with your PMO
Real-world examples of each technique
So can make your office/sponsor relationship work well for both of you.
Why should I build engagement with my PMO sponsor?
The sponsor of your PMO is likely the CEO, COO, or possibly the CIO if your office is in a technology company. Once your office is created, some sponsors may think “job done” and move on to the next task.
Your job is to keep them involved in what your PMO is doing because an engaged sponsor can have a positive influence on lots of areas of your office and the projects you govern.
Positive outcomes you can expect from engaging with your sponsor include:
- Being able to get roadblocks removed – having someone at the top level of the business who cares about your work should help keep obstructions to your activities to a minimum.
- More strategic understanding – your sponsor is involved in creating the business strategy and can bring a deeper knowledge of what the business expects from projects and your PMO.
- A streamlined relationship – creating a mutually agreed communication schedule will reduce unnecessary contact; sending an email each month is better than a day-long “crisis meeting” each quarter.
How do I engage my sponsor in my PMO?
Engagement will look different in every business, but generally, you want to have your sponsor take an interest in your work and understand the value that you add. This will benefit you in having a voice at the top of the business and will help your sponsor have a positive for their business area.
Here are our suggested actions for engaging with your PMO sponsor that you can adapt to your specific needs:
Have respect for your sponsor’s time and keep it brief. Focus on the goals they care about; agreeing on the metrics you’ll report can help keep them satisfied. We’d suggest a monthly email presented in the same way each time with data visualisations.
Bring your sponsor in on your project prioritisation process. This can be in the form of a simple sign off, but we’d suggest if you use weighted scoring or AHP to have your sponsor be one of the people completing a scorecard. This ensures your sponsor knows you’ve always got an eye on project outcomes.
Communicate on their terms. Some sponsors will want to be involved in every step your PMO takes, others will want a brief overview. As you build up your engagement efforts, have a frank conversation with your sponsor about what they want to be told about, how, and when. This isn’t static; check in with your sponsor every six months or year to check they’re getting value from your communications.
Your PMO sponsor isn’t going to work in the business forever. When you engage with them, identify other roles in the business who report into them and who should be aware of your activity. For example, you can copy in their second-in-command to your regular reports, so you’re not starting from scratch with the next relationship.
How to engage with your PMO sponsor
Creating stakeholder relationships and knowing how to engage with your PMO sponsor can help your PMO be successful. Your sponsor is your advocate in the business, but they can’t help you push through your change agenda if they don’t know what’s going on.
A positive stakeholder relationship with strong communication can ensure that your office is respected and is able to deliver what’s needed.