Depending on your organization, your project may have an official or unofficial sponsor. Most people seem to have a vague idea of what it means to be a sponsor, but in the event that you are one or need one, I thought it might be helpful to zero in on some specifics.
The overall role of a project sponsor, first off, is to provide executive management ownership of and oversight over an initiative intended to accomplish a major business goal. An effective sponsor is placed high enough in the organization to smooth the way for timely decision making and appropriate resource allocation. She typically works behind the scenes, allowing the project manager to run things on a day to day basis. Her main responsibilities include:
Minding the big picture
Project sponsors understand why and how this project is critical to business operations and the relationship it has with other parts of the company. They make sure the initiative is always well-aligned with the organization’s major goals and direction.
The project sponsor persuades the higher-ups that the project is worth supporting – before, during, and after the project is completed. He sustains organizational commitment and keeps the project top of mind when more pressing issues threaten to bury it.
For more project sponsorship tips, have a look at the full post at Intuit's Fast Track blog.