Good project governance is a must

It’s hard to see what project governance really is, because it can often feel like an unnecessary burden on a very busy Project Manager.  But it is VERY important in ensuring that a project is run and delivered as it should be.

The important aspects for good governance

Have a Senior Responsible Officer / Senior Stakeholder who has decision making ability head up your project. This person should have a key stake in the output of your project. They should be the person owning the benefits of the project.  Having them involved will ensure that whenever you get to a situation where there are issues or difficulties, you can escalate to someone with the power to make changes for the benefit of them and your project.

Just as important is having a Project Control Board (PCB) with the ‘right’ members on it.

Who are the ‘right’ members?   The PCB members need to be people with a vested interest in the outcome of your project, and people with decision making authority within their given area.  What you don’t want, is someone who wants to be involved in your project, but is a lower level worker, who has no authority at all.

It is the role of the PCB to ensure they have full visibility of the project, and can support the Project Manager to resolve issues as they arise, with the ultimate aim of making the job of project delivery as easy as possible.  Too often I’ve seen a PCB made up of people with little interest in the project, and no real decision making authority.  You are wasting their time and yours having them being involved in your project.

Someone needs to play a role in Assurance for your project. This would usually be a staff member from the Project Management Office (PMO) if your organisation has a PMO, or someone who is an outsider, that can play the devils advocate in a situation.

This also needs to be someone who is very knowledgeable about the Project Management process.  They need to ensure that you, as the Project Manager, are ticking all the right boxes, not taking shortcuts, reporting factually, and delivering… really delivering.  Someone without project management knowledge is of little value in this role.

The PMs role in project governance

The Project Manager must be completely focused on the end user/customer at all times.  In a perfect world they would report at the exception level, so that no more time than necessary is taken up in PCB meetings.  This in most cases, is not possible, as I often find that Managers involved in projects do not have the skills or understanding of what ‘good’ project management is about, therefore they need help being educated in these aspects, which means more detail (than might otherwise be necessary).

The key things that a PM should focus on are:-

    • Transparency via communication to all members of the PCB
    • A strong documented and agreement change process
    • Reporting for the PCB that provides the right level of detail for the knowledge level of attendees
    • Clarity and understanding of the required reporting cycles, especially if your project is part of a larger program

If the assurance and governance process is set up correctly it is going to make your job as a Project Manager a whole lot easier.  It also provides a means for your Senior Stakeholder / Business Owner to be comfortable that the Project Manager is doing their job in the correct way, in order to get the desired outcome for them and the project.


Written by Karen Munro