The Role of Executive Sponsor
At this point you can see that someone needs to be named responsible for seeing that this whole linkage is properly coordinated and works smoothly because there will be many conflicts of self-interest, resourcing, and timing. Many project management texts advocate for the position of (project) sponsor. However, such a role is typically in the hands of someone from the client department or Business Unit and therefore may not have the necessary authority or independence to resolve these conflicts in the best interests of the whole organization. For this reason, we recommend the establishment of an "Executive Sponsor" role, someone with sufficient seniority and authority to be able to undertake these responsibilities and resolve these conflicts.
From this model of Executive Sponsor responsibilities you can see the linkage between the three corporate groups: Executive (governance), projects, and operations. At a minimum, these critical responsibilities include:
- Participate in optimum project portfolio selection either directly or linking to the project portfolio selection group
- Own the project's Business Case that is key to developing the project and driving the project charter
- Align project outcomes with corporate strategy and the practical needs of the business operations, which is the domain of project management
- Update the alignment if/when business conditions change, which also impacts project management
- Ensure metrics are established and used by Operations
- Link to operations to ensure product benefits are harvested and data fed back to the decision-makers to close the portfolio feedback loop
Thus, the role of Executive Sponsor is not only critical to the success of each project but also critical to successful delivery of beneficial outcomes and for feeding that information back to the Executive and to portfolio management. This is not a trivial task!
Who Should Pay?
Just as the issue of who should pay for the transfer of the care, custody and control of the product to the users is sometimes a contentious issue, so also is the issue of paying for gathering benefits metrics. While Operations should naturally be concerned with the cost of their operations, their focus is relative to their annual operating budgets. Clearly, this is on a much broader scale than individual products, especially if those are IT enablers that contribute incrementally to the overall operational cost picture.
It follows that although the responsibility for collecting benefit metrics falls within the Operations domain, the purpose of those metrics is to benefit the Executive in portfolio decision-making. It would therefore appear that the best approach is for you to establish a part of your portfolio budget for this specific activity.
Once again, close cooperation between the Executive (Sponsor), Project Management and Operations will be necessary to carry out this work. However, if it is your budget, you will be able to control how the money is spent, on what metric gathering activities, when and to what standard. It may be that you even have to provide your own resources where sampling techniques and the analysis of data are involved. This is a good opportunity for recruiting and applying the skills of a Business Analyst.