At Hart Square we will often get asked the question by our clients; do I need a project lead and sponsor? It’s an important question to answer and I will seek to explain the difference between the roles and why it’s important to have both on any client project.  

Project lead

The project lead is a hugely important role for the client and is the main touch point for Hart Square throughout the project lifecycle.  A key element of this role is decision making on behalf of the client. This something, that as an external consultant, Hart Square cannot fulfil. For example, if there is a decision to be made on whether to include a specific requirement but it may lead to the project going over budget, this would require a business decision on scope and budget in conjunction with the project sponsor. 

The person within this role will vary depending on the size of the organisation, their role within it and knowledge. It’s about finding the right fit for the client and ensuring they have the time and capacity to commit to the project as there will inevitably be more intensive periods throughout the project.   

Project sponsor

The role of the project sponsor should be slightly more removed on the project and would normally be fulfilled by a senior member of staff. They wouldn’t be involved on the day-to-day activity of the project team but would sit on the project board and are ultimately accountable for the project being delivered. They act as a key point of escalation for both the client project lead and the Hart Square project manager. They look to resolve risks or issues, removing any obstacles to delivery, and ensure key decisions are made in a time effective way.  

Importance of having a project lead and sponsor

The importance of having both roles on any project cannot be underestimated. It enables a robust reporting structure while empowering the project lead to work collaboratively across the organisation to deliver the project. It also provides the client with long-term ownership of their system and ensures they are comfortable with the business decisions that have been made. Having an engaged project sponsor can make a real difference to the project delivery and ensures all parties, including any delivery partner, are held to account.  

However, there is an important need to be flexible with who fulfils these roles depending on the size of the organisation and project and it is equally important that those people within the roles, have the necessary time to commit to it to ensure the delivery of a successful project.