How to recruit the best executive sponsor for an IT project

FREE

Become An Insider

Sign up now and get free access to hundreds of Insider articles, guides, reviews, interviews, blogs, and other premium content from the best tech brands on the Internet: CIO, CITEworld, CSO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World. Learn more.

Every big project needs a high-ranking exec with a stake in the game and solid connections within the organization. Here's how to find and train the right one for the job

About five years ago, the IT department at CH2M Hill set out to install a new piece of business software. An engineering company based in Englewood, Colo., with more than $5 billion in annual revenue, CH2M Hill has many lines of business, ranging from nuclear cleanup to waste water treatment to construction of clean rooms, each with its own technological needs and priorities. David Ladek, global IT business alliance partner at the company, knew it made most sense to deploy something equally useful for all. But getting the various lines of business to agree on specifications was a challenge.

Ladek knew he needed someone with enough authority throughout the company to bring competing priorities together. Fortunately, there was organizationwide recognition that the software was necessary, and a president of one of the business units agreed to be the project's sponsor.

CH2M Hill is a fairly non-hierarchical organization, and the sponsor couldn't force the other business units to cooperate, Ladek says. But the sponsor's passionate enthusiasm as well as his influence as a high-level executive drew all the required parties to the table. "He went back to our businesses and said, 'I want a senior person from each business group to sit on this committee with me,' " Ladek recalls. "Essentially, it became a steering committee made up of all the business groups with the right people to take what we were doing back to their users and bring us feedback. I don't think IT could have gotten them there by ourselves."

The project was a success. "We turned this into an enterprise initiative that became more than just the implementation of a software tool," Ladek says. Without the sponsor, things might have gone very differently. "There are plenty of examples in our industry of applications like this turning into shelfware," he notes.

To continue reading, register here to become an Insider. You'll get free access to premium content from CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World. See more Insider content or sign in.

To continue reading, please begin the free registration process or sign in to your Insider account by entering your email address:
Mobile Security Insider: iOS vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies