The Responsibilities of a Project Champion
A project champion, or project advocate, is a fierce supporter of the project. It is an informal role held by an executive or senior management position within the company. A project champion is usually selected in the very early stages of the project’s planning. Their key goal is to help the project team successfully complete the project by providing resources, expertise and moral support.
A project champion is not the project manager, project sponsor or project coordinator. Their role is to help those project members complete the project. Often, the project champion liaises between the project team members and senior management.
The 'sponsor champion' should be:
- A strong communicator and negotiator.
- A full supporter of all elements of the project.
- Involved in the project from the conception stage.
- Able to use their authority within the company to offer resources and additional expertise.
- Inspirational and motivational for the project team.
The project champion is a vital role within an organization. For key projects, they can help the project team to meet milestones, find creative solutions and achieve the project’s goals.
One of the key roles of the project champion is to ensure all stakeholders within the organization are on board for the project. Many projects span departments or teams within an organization. Some managers within an organization may not see the value of the project or may not want to dedicate resources to the project as it may affect their day-to-day operations.
A project champion helps to convey the strategic vision and value of the project across the organization. They help other senior management roles understand how the successful completion of the project will benefit their department and the company as a whole.
The project champion role definition includes inspiring the project team throughout the entire project. In large organizations, the leadership team may not interact often with front-line employees who are executing the project. However, the project champion, who is part of the senior management team, deals directly with the team members who are completing the project.
Through this interaction, the project champion has the opportunity to build camaraderie and inspire the team. Especially during stressful situations within the project, the project champion can encourage the team members to keep moving forward. They may attend project meetings to give motivational speeches or speak with key individuals personally to praise their work.
Key project champion roles and responsibilities involve dealing with company politics. Often, a project may run into an obstacle that is related to issues between personnel within an organization. Due to their senior standing and authority, a project champion can help the project team deal with office politics to keep the project on schedule.
If the project comes up against resource issues, such as time, labor or cost, the project champion can negotiate with the executive group to provide the project team with the resources they need to successfully complete the project. They can also work with the project team to prioritize certain phases of the project based on value to the organization, and then use the success of those stages to negotiate an increase in resources for the project.
Overall, the project champion is there to help the project team complete the project successfully so that the company can achieve the goals they have set out to do. By using their senior position within the organization, coupled with their years of experience and expertise, the project champion is able to guide the project team through any challenges so that they can complete their tasks. Having inspirational and motivational support is also a key element of this role that helps the project team throughout the course of the project.