Effective project sponsor briefing is essential.

It’s a key strategic objective. The very success of this project will ensure that the company steals an estimated 12 months on the competition and give you huge competitive advantage. It’s been in research phase (for 8 months) and now, after a successful business case has been developed you are given the project to deliver. This is your first involvement with the project.

So what briefing do you get from the project sponsor? What avenues are open to you for spending time absorbing the 8 months’ worth of information? This was a topic on a recent project management course. It rather replicated the situation a few years ago when someone said:

I’m sorry, there’s not enough information to do this project

So, here you are, in a situation where your knowledge base is low and the expectations of your sponsor and possible the project board are high. You need information and you need it quickly.

Briefing of project managers is key – start up workshops

I asked a group what they could do to get the information. They came up with a few suggestions:

  • agree to look at the project with the sponsor and ask as many questions as you can at that meeting
  • ask to look at any paper work – definitely the business case
  • do a quick stakeholder analysis of all of those who have been involved in the discussions and the research phase. Develop some questions to put to them and speak to as many as you can
  • do a high level risk assessment and understand the questions you have that now need answers

I introduced the idea of a start up workshop (or series) to answer many of the questions that project staff have, suggesting that the sponsor and key stakeholders should also be present. The idea went down well.

The next big thing needs to be debated, talked about and the project manager needs an effective briefing. Who has been trained in briefing?

Of the 10 people in the room, only 4 felt they had received an effective briefing from their sponsor. Of the 4 one person said there were still lots of questions which needed answering however the sponsor understood this and made himself available at agreed times in the future.

Common sense in project management – where is it?

Much of what I write here is I hope common sense…..but, it is clear this common senses is not in much supply. While writing this I came across the following words by @OperationSLives

“We need to try and make common senses common again…..”

Effective project briefing are very much a common sense idea!

There have been many occasions when someone has complained to me about being dumped on with a project with little or no information.

Briefing is a skill and I have not met many people who have been trained at doing it. If that’s the case, then let’s look at some ways to establish a good and clean start to projects with clean information flows and agreeing common understanding. If the project sponsor does make it happen then the project manager must take the matter in hand.

So remember: “We need to make common sense common again……”

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