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Project Management Interviews for Beginners and Experts

Episode 193: The GAPPS Standard For Project Sponsors (Free)

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Bill DuncanHave you ever had to deal with a sponsor who didn’t really understand his or her role on the project? Maybe you only met them once and then they basically told you to go away and stop bothering them instead of being involved and taking responsibility for what their role on the project is? And by the way... what exactly IS their role? Can we please define that?

Yes we can. To be precise: GAPPS can and in today’s interview I am welcoming Bill Duncan (www.pmpartners.com) to discuss the GAPPS standard for project sponsors (www.globalpmstandards.org).   

In this interview you will not only hear what the GAPPS standard contains in regards to the sponsor role, but you can use it as a means to do a bit of a cross check on your own projects. Bill Duncan has a lot of valuable insights that you may want to use in the discussions with your sponsors.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #193. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. I am Cornelius Fichtner.  Nice to have you with us.

Have you ever had to deal with a sponsor who didn’t really understand his or her role on the project? Maybe you only met them once and then they basically told you to please go away and stop bothering them instead of being involved and taking responsibility for what their role on the project really is? And by the way, what exactly is their role on the project? Can we please define that?

Yes we can. To be precise: GAPPS can and in today’s interview I am welcoming Bill Duncan to discuss the GAPPS standard for sponsors.

This episode of The Project Management Podcast is sponsored by The PM Exam Simulator™ because nothing prepares you more for the PMP® Exam than being able to sit down and take a realistically simulated PMP® Exam. Go to www.FreeExamSimulator.com, get your free 3-day access, and see for yourself what the PMP® Exam is like.

In this interview, you will not only hear what the GAPPS standard contains in regards to the sponsor role, but you can use it as a means to do a bit of a cross check on your own projects. Bill Duncan has a lot of valuable insights that you may want to use in the discussions with your sponsors.

Bill Duncan is a principal of Project Management Partners, a project management consulting and training firm. He has nearly 30 years of management and consulting experience including 5 years with a major international consulting firm. He was the primary author of the 1994 and 1996 versions of “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge,” the most widely used project management standard in the world. In addition, his "process model" of project management was used to organize ISO 10006, guidelines for quality in project management. He has helped clients in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia improve their organizational performance through better project management.

And now, this episode is sponsored by your enjoyment of the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with William Duncan, principal of Project Management Partners.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Duncan! Welcome to The Project Management Podcast™.

William Duncan: Hello, Cornelius and thank you.

Cornelius Fichtner: So why do we need a standard for project sponsors?

William Duncan: Okay. Clearly, the role of a sponsor is an important one in a project. Sponsor is the connection between the project and the ongoing permanent stationary organization, whatever you want to categorize that. It’s the organization that’s actually providing the funding for the project.

Typically, the project manager is focused on the needs of the project, what has to get down on the project. The sponsor provides a key link to the organization to make sure that the project is going to meet the needs of the organization.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. So what is GAPPS then, g-a-p-p-s and what does it stand for?

William Duncan: GAPPS stands for Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay!

William Duncan: It’s a volunteer organization, professional organization focused on developing standards for roles in project and program management. We have released a project manager standard. We have released program manager standard. The sponsorship standard will be the third in the list. We are also looking at other areas such as the project controls. There is even a consideration for possibly trying to develop something for team members or for specialists for all such as schedule or cost engineers, risk analysts.

Cornelius Fichtner: You mentioned it’s a volunteer effort, right? So can our listeners join and help with the effort?

William Duncan: Joining may be a little bit more difficult than helping. So I’ll treat those as two separate topics. Membership in GAPPS is open to organizations. There is information on the GAPPS website which is www.globalpmstandards.org for organizations who wish to join in order to have a voice at the table.

However, most of the major project management organizations are members of GAPPS. So that is if you’re a member in ASAPM for example, which is the organization I worked in in the US or perhaps AIPM in Australia. IPMA, International Project Manager Association is also a member. So anyone who is a member of one of those organizations can participate as a representative of that organization.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. Let’s come back to the standard. How would such a standard actually help our listeners, they’re all project managers, on their day-to-day projects?

William Duncan: Let me kind of turn that question around in this way and ask your listeners, have you ever had a problem whether the sponsor did not live up to your expectations?

Cornelius Fichtner: That’s a rhetorical question, isn’t it?

William Duncan: Yeah. One of the frequent questions that I’ve seen on some of the list servers that I subscribed to is: What do I do about a sponsor that’s not interested in my project?

Now, I often give that kind of a glib response and say if the sponsor is not interested, you probably shouldn’t be working on the project and the project probably ought to be cancelled. But let’s assume that that’s not the issue. Very often, a sponsor simply doesn’t know what it is you’re supposed to do. I have seen a couple of small books on sponsorship. I don’t think it’s a topic that would merit a huge volume. But very often when I look at what’s involved in sponsorship, what other people are saying who’s involved in sponsorship.

There’s also often an overlap between what might be expected of a project manager. So for example, establishing a vision for the project: Is that something that should come from the project manager? Is it something that should come from the sponsor?

My personal opinion is that a vision needs to be developed by the team working as a group but in terms of developing a vision, I would probably have an expectation that would be something that would be an activity that the sponsor might have more experience with, sponsor might well be more tuned to what the vision and mission of the overall organization are so they might be better able to contribute to the groups’ thinking in terms of how does the vision for this project interface with or support the vision for the organization.

Cornelius Fichtner: You’ve sent me a working draft of the standard. It’s a Word document. It’s just 3 pages long and it contains 6 general areas in which sponsors should be active. What I’d like to do now is I’d like to go through these 6 areas and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the expectations are for an ideal sponsor on my project?

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Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

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