1) Why do some executives refuse to function as project sponsors?
Project sponsor (often a senior manager or executive) plays a vital role in aligning the project prospects with the business needs. Companies often tend to choose one of the senior executives with the right expertise for the successful delivery of the project within the stipulated time frame. An engaged project sponsor with a keen business interest can connect all the required dots to provide clear cut direction for the project by securing all the required resources and allocating sufficient time & budget. With a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities, project manager and sponsor should work with the right coordination from the start to finish. From the case study, I believe as Al Zink haven’t worked in the similar role was reluctant to take up the risks involved in making the decisions for this project as it might affect his career and reputation.
2) Can an executive be “forced” to function as a sponsor?
Choosing a right project sponsor aligned with the project and business needs plays a key role in deciding the success/failure of the project deliverables. Forceful handover of a new project into hands of a wrong sponsor can be disastrous. Respective business and technology areas keen/interested sponsor should be assigned to make key decisions in collaboration with the project manager for the right progress. From the case study, as it is quite evident from the fact that the project manager was stubborn and waited for weeks to obtain a single decision from Al Zink.
3) Is it right for the sponsor to be the ultimate person responsible for the success or failure of the project?
Success of a project depends upon the sponsor who plays a champion role in showing his/her commitment and playing a major part in making team excited about the project prospects and its outcome. With a senior executive experience in the background, project sponsor should be able to provide and fulfil all the needs of project members and stakeholders. Project sponsor should be completely involved with the morale and the accountability of the team.