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March 24, 2022

What is a project champion, and does your business need one?


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A project champion is a member of a project team that ensures everyone is on board and on track to complete the project successfully and on time. Oftentimes, project champions assist project managers in mobilizing the team and obtaining the resources required to carry projects to completion.

The role of a project champion regarding projects and then organizational success at large includes:

- Identifying every objective of the project.

- Ensuring that all the other members of the team understand these objectives to guarantee a cohesive process and a successful project.

- Tracking the progress of the project from inception to completion.

- Analyzing the project strategies used and suggesting any necessary alterations or improvements.

- Keep an eye open for any possible holdups that may cause delays or dysfunction.

- Maintaining an accurate and reasonable project timeline.

- Overseeing that the project is carried out according to budget.

- Communicating clearly with team members, executives, clients, and any associated stakeholders.

According to Jeffrey K. Pinto and Dennis P. Slevin in the article titled “The Project Champion: Key to Implementation Success”, there are 4 types of project champions:

1. The creative originator;

2. The entrepreneur;

3. The sponsor; and 

4. The project manager.

The Creative Originator

This kind of project champion is usually an engineer, technician, or a similar person who is also the major source and driving force behind the project idea(s). They are the creative and innovative force within a project team, thus it is no surprise that such an individual would function as a project champion. They possess the greatest sense of vision and expertise within the team. Thus, they are even encouraged to lead, especially in cases where problems were to arise within the project, they would be the best people to troubleshoot such situations.

The Entrepreneur

The organizational entrepreneur is the proactive project champion, working dedicatedly to push the project to success. They recognize the value of the original idea(s) and adopt them almost as their own. They are usually always on the lookout for new and potentially profitable ideas to develop. This is why they are called “entrepreneurs”. It is the passion and drive that these entrepreneurs exhibit that makes them excellent project champions.

The Sponsor

Also known as the godfather, the sponsor is a senior-level manager that does everything within their power to promote the project. This includes gathering the required resources, coaching the team to address issues, taking the oars when there are political waters that need navigating, and guarding the project when necessary. They make it known throughout the organization that the particular project is under their guidance and protection.

The Project Manager

The project manager is the project leader who handles the operational planning and day-to-day details of the project. However, as the project champion, they are expected to exceed the traditional management expectations. They act as the administrator, cheerleader, ambassador, integrator, and planner of the project, as well as carry out any other unofficial activities required for the successful completion of the project.

Does Your Field Service Business Need a Project Champion?

The truth is that every field service business needs a project champion in its project team(s). With how the bar has been raised in terms of the value that today’s customers expect to receive from the services that they pay for, that someone who will go the extra mile to guarantee the success of projects has never been more valuable. 

However, just as having a project champion is important, a project champion possessing all the qualities and characteristics that are necessary for success is equally as important. It is up to them to “champion” the project, so they must be true leaders, brimming with motivation enough for the entire team. They cannot be quitters; they must be solution-finders regardless of whatever circumstances may arrive.

A project champion must also have all the tools and resources that are essential to the project’s success. Technology has never been more key to the success of field service projects; thus, a project champion must have the right tech at their disposal. For example, one of the key functions of a project champion is ensuring that a project is completed on time. The right kind of tech to aid with this goal is an effective time tracking software that will help in keeping all the team members on track and on time.

How to Build Project Champions

1. Identify and encourage the emergence of project champions: Encourage and even reward feats such as innovation and going the extra mile to ensure the success of projects.

2. Reward risk takers: No innovation comes without risks. Thus, it is important to establish a work environment where both innovation and risk-taking are encouraged and not punished.

3. Encourage the non-traditional traits of project champions: These traits include being the cheerleader and motivator of the team, being a project visionary, understanding how to play politics within the organization, risk-taking, and ambassadorship or representative qualities.

4. There’s no harm in using multiple project champions: Multiple champions often emerge within one project team. One project can have an originator technician, a higher-up sponsor, and a project manager. Each champion will assist the project’s development where they will be most needed. Thus, the multiplicity of project champions should also be encouraged.

In conclusion, if you don’t already have a project champion, it’s time to look for or create one. Having these individuals on your team will not only directly impact the success of your business, but it makes sure that there is always a sense of motivation within your company.  

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