What is the role of the Project Sponsor?

The relationship between a project manager and project sponsor can directly influence the success of the project.  Recent figures from 2018 Pulse of the Profession® PMXPO2018 stated that inadequate Sponsor support is a primary cause of project failure.


The project sponsor has a number of extremely important parts to play, from authorising the project in the first instance, to holding the budget and making the resources you need available. For this reason it is essential to get the project sponsor on side, as knowing how to get the best out of them can really make your project fly.   So, clearly the project sponsor is an invaluable part of the process, but what exactly should they do?

1. The business case 

The project sponsor’s official role begins right at the start of the process, during the project initiation phase. At this point they need to put the business case together to authorise the project. To do this they will carry out an analysis of the likely success or failure rates of the project and justify the reason for undertaking the project. This should include factors such as the benefits, the costs, the risks and the alternative options that could be undertaken.

Once the project is underway, the project sponsor will need to check that the project is on track and that the business case is still valid. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to achieve the outcomes that have been documented and agreed, so this is undoubtedly a key part of their role.

2. Project sign off

Every project is split into different stages that need to be completed before others can begin. To progress the project smoothly through the various stages, it is usually down to the project sponsor to perform a formal sign off at the end of each phase. These ‘stage reviews’ will usually involve a meeting that the project sponsor will likely chair where they look more closely at the project performance over the last phase and discuss plans for the next part of the work. 

At each stage review, the purpose is to ensure the project is still viable. Using the information provided during the review, the sponsor will then be able to decide whether the project should progress. 

3. Putting the resources in place

The job of allocating the resources is down to you as the project manager, but making sure the resources are available for you to allocate should be the role of the project sponsor. You will have to specify exactly what it is you’ll need in terms of people, equipment and skills in your project management plan, and explain why these resources are required. The project sponsor may also get involved in issues such as resource conflicts, prioritising resources and any other issues that arise.

4. The project Board

Another role the project sponsor should undertake is chairing the project Board. This is a Board made up of senior project stakeholders that is responsible for overseeing the project. As a project manager, you will be asked to detail the project’s progress and justify some of the decisions you have made to date. It is the sponsor’s job to make sure the group is effective and to keep the conversations on track.

5. Risk planning

Mitigating the risks inherent in a project is another task the project sponsor will have oversight of. It is their job to approve or decline the risk mitigation plans you have put together that cost money, take time or have some impact on the project. For this reason, if you identify some significant risks at the outset of the project, it is worth having a conversation with the project sponsor so you know how they would like proceed.


The relationship your sponsor has with your project is so important as the help they give is often vital. Therefore, it is important to maintain good communication with your sponsor, such as sharing project reporting and updates to keep them informed of progress as this may mean the difference between your projects success or failure.

Getting your sponsor on board can often be the hardest part for any Project Manager but once they are bought-in your project will be sure to fly.   

How can Hydra help?

Hydra software allows you to create personal and shared environments for different levels of teamwork and control. This means you can share information and documents online across multiple teams and locations so you can collaborate in real-time with the project sponsor and other key stakeholders.