Lacking Senior Leadership Support
NOTE: This is one of the most common – and critical – challenges.
Many projects fail not because they lack senior management sponsorship, but because they have only passive senior management support.
Conflicting priorities – other projects, regulatory compliance and reporting, etc. – often interfere with senior managers’ ability to support process improvement initiatives.
Not all projects receive equal support. Senior managers in an organization are competing for a finite pool of resources and must negotiate with other project sponsors, other departments, and balance the demands of other strategic initiatives that they sponsor.
Project benefits must be in line with the company or department’s over all strategic goals or the project will not successfully compete for senior management attention and valuable resources.
Once projects are under way, responsible leaders check in with sponsors regularly to be sure that project objectives are still relevant. The time may not be right for a given initiative. It is often better to shelve it rather than attempt to move forward with insufficient support.
To be sure that a project remains a priority, leaders must continuously educate senior management on the project benefits and relevance. This will enable senior management to secure resources and assure that they remain available. Sometimes senior managers can successfully obtain a budget commitment ahead of time and allocate it in phases if necessary.
Do not hesitate to coach senior management on their role as project sponsor. They may not be aware that they are expected to function as an advocate, promoter, and over all project champion.
Keep stakeholders well informed throughout the project lifecycle – they need to hear both good news and bad news along the way. Bad news should never be a surprise to senior management.
This is one of a series of posts on project management for finance professionals. The series features practical project management advice and tips for driving process change using technology. The series is archived here.