IT Governance

What Is Project Governance and Why Do We Need It?

“Governance” can scare people because of its negative connotation—indeed, it can be sketchy or bureaucratic, but it proves crucial to the success of a project if implemented properly. Project governance includes the policies, processes, standards, procedures, and guidelines that determine how projects are led and controlled in an organization. In an article for the Balance, Elizabeth Harrin shares the essentials of governance for better project outcomes.

Project Governance Matters

Governance is used to answer demands. It meets sponsors’ and key stakeholders’ demands to know how the budget is being used or whether the project is proceeding on schedule through phases. And it also meets external and/or legal demands to keep everything on the up and up. Good project governance not only helps you minimize risk and enhance more effective communication, but it also contributes to improve ROI, increase buy-in gains, and effectively track investment activities.

Harrin says that there are five key areas of focus for project governance:

  • Methodologies and processes
  • Knowledge management
  • Project management maturity
  • Senior-level buy-in
  • Supportive culture

These foundational areas guarantee a disciplined project management life cycle with defined points for discussions and decisions on the viability of a project. They also ensure that people working on projects are qualified in their specialized roles and have defined responsibilities. More importantly, project governance must be able to promote a supportive culture of continuous learning that encourages team members to grow and improve through discussion and constructive feedback. This proper model of project governance should eventually be able to pry trust and engagement from sponsors and stakeholders, and enable management teams to make the right decisions.

However, we should also be aware that there isn’t a single project governance model that is flawless and can fit into all projects. Especially in smaller organizations, project managers often struggle coming up with a formula from scratch. Harrin says that you can always build your own “recipe” and design a model that fits your project, knowing what you and others need to move forward. She suggests going back to basics:

  • Create a roles and responsibilities document
  • Make sure you have a project sponsor
  • Make sure you have a Project Board or steering group and arrange regular meetings for which you take and distribute minutes
  • Set up a risk management process
  • Set up a change management process
  • Build points into your project schedule where you check the viability of the project against the original goals of the business case (the end of each stage of phase is the natural point to put these checks)

While project managers certainly play a role in this, final responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the project sponsor. Work together for the best results. You can view the original article here:

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