The Project Champion: A Management Best Practice

At the start of every project, hopes are always high. Expectations will be exceeded. Deliverables will be timely. Customers will be amazed with the end result and zealously recommend potential clients.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. There are times when projects go horribly off kilter. Timelines are missed, products or services do not live up to the customer’s vision and realization of success dwindles, creating a threat to customer relations and, even more damaging, the reputation of a business.

What consistently yields a positive outcome to projects of all scopes and sizes? The answer is far less of a what and more of a who. The true advocate for a project, and the gatekeeper of a project’s heroic success or dismal failure – is a project champion.

So What Is a Project Champion?

The project champion is the person within an organization implementing a project who takes on the burden of ensuring everyone involved is on board and behind the ultimate success of the project.

They are responsible for:

  • Identifying a project’s strategic objectives.
  • Working with the project team to ensure the vision for the project is successfully translated into the requirements and solution design.
  • Critically analyzing and ensuring best practices.
  • Identifying and eliminating obstacles that may threaten a project’s viability within the organization itself.
  • Prioritizing project phases based on value.
  • Relaying timely updates to all managers and client contacts impacted team members.
  • Appropriately allocating and organizing internal resources to ensure the successful completion implementation or adoption of a project.

They don’t take “no” or “I don’t have the time” for an answer. They keep everyone’s eyes on the prize that represents the successful implementation of this project.

A project champion is the unfeigned, authoritative and, at times, veracious champion of a project.

A bona fide project advocate, a project champion is typically a member of senior management or critical expertise that strengthens a project’s value by adding formidable experience to the mix. Accurately and efficiently delivering project success.

Seven Traits of a Project Champion

1) Qualifications and aptitude to understand all elements of the project.

2) Capacity to meet and exceed expectations of management.

3) Ability to motivate and inspire a team to buy in and become engaged in the project’s success.

4) Finesse to negotiate with all parties to ensure project success.

5) Exceptional problem solving abilities and the resourcefulness to defeat obstacles.

6) Superior organizational talents, and a knack for keeping team members on track.

7) Stellar communications skills, keeping all project stakeholders aware and engaged.

A project champion greatly reduces the likelihood of project failure. On the front lines of any project, and in direct communication with the entire team at all times, the project champion is the protector of a project. A critical sentry devoted to delivering a victorious project that thrills management.

Once one project or stage is complete, the project champion leaps into action to get the next one rolling – a hero in the lifecycle of project management.

Champion Photo via Shutterstock


Chris Miles

Chris Miles Chris Miles is Founder and CEO of Miles Technologies, an award-winning IT, custom software, web design and online marketing firm in Moorestown, New Jersey. Miles Technologies in 2013 developed business by MILES, a Web based business operations platform designed to support all business functionalities. Miles is an expert in IT and business solutions.

11 Reactions

  1. I agree that a project champion is a necessary role that must be fulfilled in order for a company to successfully complete a project or systematic change. I also think that the seven traits Chris lays out for what it takes to be a successful project champion might be hard to find in one person. In my experience, some leaders are very good at inspiring their followers to push forward through challenges, but they might not be as successful at solving problems or staying organized. I think that, while a project champion with ALL of the traits described above would be the ideal person, we should not discount other leaders who might also be able to help take on a champion role, without fulfilling all of these traits perfectly.

  2. As a contractor that has been employed as a PMA, Project Manager, and Program Analyst, I understand and truly value having a champion on-site. A champion is an advocate of sorts that keeps your project, budget, and/or initiative relevant. They are usually in rooms you are not pushing your initiative or program forward. Not having one can be the end of your project or cause of reductions in budget or change of scope.

  3. Project champions are a vital to the life of the project. I like the term ‘advocate’ used to describe the project champion. Someone whose only prerogative is making sure that the project has everything it needs to be completed on time and on budget. I think it is an important distinction that the leader does not have to be the project champion. Someone who is closer to the ins and outs of the project may be a better fit. After looking at what a project champion does, I am left wondering what type of person makes for project champion. What professional experience would someone want to see in a candidate when looking for a project champion?

  4. A project champion is someone that is always required in organizations when there are difficult things to achieve. Someone from the team has to step up and make things happen while leading the way. The hardest things to find in a company are precisely the ideal candidates for project champions. However, I also believe that a trait that is missing happens when the project champion is missing. Moreover, there should be someone else that he or she has previously coached and trained so in absence of the person another leader can step up and make the team work together.

  5. The article is an interesting article in that it references some of the characteristics required to be a successful project manager. However, it fails to take into consideration the practical undercurrents of an organizations’ structure regarding the intrinsic humanistic and cultural norms adopted by the company. The way in which an organization relates to its’ members as well as the reputation that the organization has developed throughout its’ existence. These are important factors associated with the success or lack thereof for the “project champion”. These are factors that can and will limit the range and scope of the project managers ability to get things done in a way that fluidly moves his or her ideas forward.

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