Digital transformation is no easy task. As you develop your project plan, you’re probably overwhelmed thinking about all the essential activities, especially when it comes to preparing employees for new technology.

Instead of overwhelming you further by detailing every component of organizational change management, today were talking about one of the most important components: change sponsorship.

What is a change sponsor, why do you need one, and what should be on your change management sponsor checklist?

Here are all of the details you need to know.

What is a Change Sponsor?

Every successful digital transformation project requires strong sponsorship. A change sponsor is someone who people look up to and listen to. This person should stay active and engaged throughout the project, while championing your efforts in a visible way.

This is usually someone from your C-suite, though not every executive will be well-suited for the role. Ideally, it will be someone willing and able to share important details and generally build buzz around the project.

While the change sponsor’s roles will vary, there are five main tasks that they should support. These include:

• Securing your project budget
• Engaging senior management
• Supporting the project team
• Actively and visibly supporting the change
• Anticipating and managing pain points

Change Management Case Study

The client recognized their need for more comprehensive change management, so they asked us to fill in the gaps. We developed a robust communication plan to supplement the vendor’s communication approach.

Change Management Sponsor Checklist

When you know how to identify and support your change sponsors, it can improve the outcome of your project and help you avoid ERP failure. Here are the best practices to follow.

Understanding the Role: Change Sponsors vs. Project Managers​

While change sponsors will share some similar duties as project managers, these two roles are not the same.

Project managers are responsible for handling the day-to-day tasks required to keep the implementation afloat. They manage short-term expectations, keep budgets and timelines on track, and resolve issues as they occur.

On the other hand, a change sponsor has a broader perspective. Their job is to help others understand the company’s long-term goals. They focus on sharing how the new systems will help move the business closer to these goals. They’re less involved in the nitty-gritty details of the project. 

Identifying an Effective Change Sponsor

There are certain traits that a successful change sponsor will possess. To be effective in this role, they must be:

• Able to clearly articulate a vision
• Able to create high-profile teams
• Confident enough to speak publicly about the change

Above all else, they must have the organizational power required to help spur decision-making and leadership action. They should know how to work with urgency, motivating others in your organization to make the project a priority.

Sometimes, it’s obvious who should fill the role of the change sponsor. There might be one individual who is especially on board with the effort and has all the traits listed above, in addition to C-suite clout.

Other times, you might not be as certain. If you have multiple contenders or no one particularly stands out, you can conduct what’s called a sponsorship assessment.

In short, this means you’ll analyze each of your potential sponsors. Consider if they possess the traits that you need. Then, look at the degree of involvement they currently have in the change.

Supporting Your Change Sponsors

Appointing your change sponsors is only the first step. Throughout the project, you’ll need to engage them on a routine basis by:

• Providing behind-the-scenes assistance
• Explaining the role and coaching the sponsor through it
• Ensuring the sponsor interfaces directly with employees
• Conducting regular meetings
• Holding the change sponsor accountable

Change Sponsors Provide Valuable Project Support

Change sponsors play a critical role in a successful ERP implementation. These are the people who will champion your project, build hype, and reduce resistance. 

Use this change management sponsor checklist to identify, assess, and support this influencer throughout your project.

Need help navigating a major change in your organization? Our change management consultants can help you ensure project success, one phase at a time. Contact us below to learn more and get started.

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