Lonnie Pacelli is an internationally recognized author and president of Leading on the Edge International. Lonnie has over 25 years of leadership experience as an executive, project manager, developer, tester, analyst, trainer, consultant, and business owner. During his 11 years at Accenture he gained leadership expertise consulting with many Fortune 500 companies including Motorola, Hughes Electronics, and Northrop-Grumman. Throughout his nine years at Microsoft he built his leadership expertise through development of some of Microsoft’s internal systems and led their Corporate Procurement group, managed their Corporate Planning group, and led company-wide initiatives on Continuous Fiscal Improvement and Training Process Optimization. At Leading on the Edge International Lonnie consults with companies such as Microsoft, AT&T, Corning, and Key Bank on leadership, project management, executive coaching, and business strategy development and implementation. He is an engaging and entertaining keynote speaker and consistently receives rave reviews from his audiences. His practical, no-nonsense, experience-based approach to solving tough problems has helped leaders, project managers and teams consistently deliver results.
Straight Talk Leadership Seminars: 31 Tips to be a Best-in-Class Project Sponsorby Lonnie Pacelli
Some years back I was appointed the lead program manager on an initiative to consolidate a number of disparate order management systems into a single system which supported all of the company’s order management needs. There were about five program managers working with me who each dragged in their respective customers to participate in the project. The… See more details below
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Some years back I was appointed the lead program manager on an initiative to consolidate a number of disparate order management systems into a single system which supported all of the company’s order management needs. There were about five program managers working with me who each dragged in their respective customers to participate in the project. The project was sponsored by the IT organization with no sponsorship from the business owner. The project lumbered along for about two months with the customers continually questioning why they were working on a project that wasn’t on their manager’s radar. The business owner finally had enough and called IT management and the lead program manager (me!) into a meeting. The meeting started off with the manager saying to IT, “Who told you to do this project?” Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but it was pretty clear at that point that this was not to be one of my shining project management moments. While the meeting was very uncomfortable, I learned an extremely important lesson: absolutely, without a doubt, secure sponsorship on a project at the beginning, or suffer the consequences.
For any project, it’s crucial to get an appropriate level of project sponsorship. I’ve never seen or managed a successful project that didn’t have an appropriate level sponsor leading the charge. Optimally, your project sponsor should have decision making authority over the in-scope project areas, while staying close enough to the work in order to understand the implications of any issues raised. If your sponsor is at too low of a level, they’re unlikely to be able to make decisions that will stick and will have to get authorization from their management before committing to decisions. If your sponsor is too high of a level, decisions will be made, but you’re probably not making the best use of management because others at lower levels could have handled the decisions.
Identifying an appropriate-level project sponsor is a great first step in ensuring a successful project. The project sponsor also needs to exhibit some key attributes to help the project navigate the turbulence and nail a three-point landing. Through my experience, I’ve zeroed in on ten key attributes a best-in-class project sponsor should possess to better ensure a project’s successful completion.
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