Project governance is one of the most crucial components of project management. It is an oversight function that spans the entire project lifecycle and can be a deciding factor in the overall success of the project. It consists of the framework and functions that guide the decision-making and defines structured roles, responsibilities within the project. The framework must be robust, logical and should be capable of being replicated across projects within the organization. In fact, in the absence of a strong governance structure in place, organizations run the risk of mismanaging resources and delaying projects indefinitely.

Benefits of Project Governance

The role of governance on a project comprises: setting direction, making decisions, and overseeing direction. Establishing project governance is not a simple task. There is often significant investment that needs to be made when starting a new project. Here are four key benefits of project governance:

  • Single point of accountability;
  • Clearly assigned roles, responsibility, and relationships among project stakeholders;
  • Risk and issue management and resolution; and
  • Transparent communication.

Key aspects of project governance:

Clearly defined responsibilities

Lack of clarity in defining responsibilities will have a direct effect on the effectiveness of meetings, risk assessment and the communication plan. The project manager must define who is accountable, and who is responsible, who is to be consulted and informed for each of the project’s deliverables. There are specific roles and responsibilities assigned to each leadership position, some of which include the following:

Project Sponsor: Prioritizes the project within the organization and champions it at the senior levels. This role provides strategic direction and gets all project stakeholders on the same page.

Steering Committee: The committee provides operational direction, applies best practices, and determines key metrics of project goals.

Project Manager: Responsible for executing the project in alignment with the goals and milestones outlined by the other two roles.

Stakeholder Engagement

The first step is to identify all the stakeholders, whether direct or indirect, whether in the team or peripheral to the team. Even if one stakeholder is left out, this can derail the entire project and can have a detrimental impact. Some primary stakeholders include the project steering committee, sponsors, suppliers, government boards, the project team, business owners, and so on. The project manager can define who the stakeholders are, their expectations and most importantly, how to communicate with them.

Stakeholder Communication

The communication plan needs to be created once all the stakeholders have been defined and their interests and expectations have been captured. A comprehensive communication plan delivers efficient and timely information to all relevant stakeholders.

Risk and Issue Management

Projects/programs are always riddled with risks and issues. It is difficult to predict what is going to occur, but a lack of preparation will put the project team further behind. There should be a consensus on how to identify and prioritize the risks at the very beginning of the project. Handling the risk or issue is more important than the issue/risk itself as it ensures that the workflow does not hit any road bumps.

Governance helps create an environment that is conducive for good project management. After all, even the most well-planned project with the most talented employees can run the risk of going off-track in the absence of robust project governance.