A Guide for Project Sponsors: How to Get the Best from Your Project Manager

The Project Manager plays a central role in achieving delivery of a successful project. So, it’s worth considering how to get the best possible outcomes from whomever you’ve appointed to that role. Based on more than 15 years’ experience delivering a vast range of projects, we’d suggest the following 3 points:

1. Planning: Has the Project Manager been given adequate time to complete the important planning phase/s of the project and prepare the business case?

Delivering a successful project requires management of risk. Without sufficient planning, risks are not thought through and mitigated. The Business Case is also an important part of this process and, amongst other things, enables the project team to agree how the project benefits will be defined and measured. Without adequate time for planning and a good Business Case, a successful project will be difficult to deliver. This planning phase is critical but is often rushed.

2. Resourcing: Other than the resources required to deliver the project, does the Project Manager also need dedicated project support? (ie for tasks like reporting, scheduling and accounting).

There are a myriad of details to manage on any project but many initiatives have a high level of complexity making close management of details essential and time consuming. It is likely that if your project is high in complexity, the Project Manager will need support from a Project Coordinator or Project Administrator. This enables the Project Manager to spend more time managing the project team and the delivery of work, and therefore operating at a higher level than he or she would be without project support.

3. Communication: Does the Project Sponsor and do all Project Control Board members align their messages to stakeholders with messages from the Project Manager, so that expectations of the project are being actively managed?

Everyone thinks that this is going to happen automatically, but in today’s fast paced workplace it often doesn’t because people don’t make the time to prepare, agree and align their messages. If you want to get the best from your Project Manager, do support that person in their efforts to manage expectations with stakeholders. Accurate and well-controlled communications are key to the change management process and delivery of a successful project.