Four ways of targeting an executive sponsor for your HRMS project

Engaging stakeholders in your HRMS project is important and arguably none more so than the C-suite. After all, they are the ultimate decision-makers in any organization. The most common way to tap into that level of influence is through the project’s executive sponsor.

As the most senior project representative, the executive sponsor also carries a kind of ‘buck stops here’ responsibility for seeing that the benefits in the business case are realized. So, why the need to specifically engage them - wouldn’t that responsibility automatically make the project a priority?

Unfortunately not, especially in larger organizations which may have dozens of transformation projects ongoing at any given moment. In these circumstances, it’s not unusual for a director or board member to be responsible for many such projects in addition to their regular role and you may have make your case for a little senior commitment stand out from numerous others…

1. Accountability

The other common aspect of large organization project management is that executive sponsors are appointed not so much because the project fits with their duties or experience but because every project of a certain size should have a sponsor and the appointment is made on a “who’s available?” or “whose turn is it?” basis.

Get real world advice on getting c-level buy-in for a new HRMS with this guide to selling your HRMS project to senior management

One way to influence this is to have an ‘expectations meeting’ with the sponsor, early in the project, and clarify objectives, deliverables, and each person’s contribution, including the sponsor’s.

2. Regular and frequent contact

In some projects, it may seem that the only contact with the executive sponsor is at the monthly or quarterly project committee meeting. Such formal meetings are an essential governance tool but they also tend to be rigidly run with a narrow focus on milestones and project plans.

Set up more frequent contact with your sponsor to discuss progress less formally and create a more regular series of engagement opportunities.

3. Make it stand out

If you want your sponsor’s attention when you’re competing with a number of other projects, you need to emphasise HRMS’ importance to the organization, notably the strategic (and bottom line) contribution that a successful project will make. Find a way to show how beneficial it may be to be sponsoring this particular project.

4. If you can, choose your sponsor

It may not be possible for your to allocate this particular responsibility, however, you can influence the choice. From the moment you begin to put together a persuasive business case for a new HRMS, start thinking who would be the best C-suite sponsor to have working with you. The reality is that there are countless conversations before you get to the stage of a finalized business case and a green light for the project. Those conversations are opportunities to float ideas, maybe even generate some wider enthusiasm for your choice of sponsor.

As for who to pick? Consider the following:

  • Someone for whom HRMS is linked in some way to their regular area of responsibility (e.g. Finance, which may be connected to payroll).
  • An outspoken critic of HR (in other words make an ally out of your ‘enemy’).
  • A newly-appointed C-suiter who may be looking to make their mark by successfully steering a project with an organisation-wide impact.
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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall