Good project governance achieves great results
All projects benefit from strong project governance. With a good governance structure in place, project managers can feel confident and empowered to deliver to their best abilities; without a good structure, risk levels increase, and delivery can fall short of specifications.
The Association for Project Management defines project governance as ‘the framework of authority and accountability that defines and controls the outputs, outcomes and benefits from projects, programs, and portfolios’. In essence, it’s a way for project sponsors and stakeholders to ensure that the proper controls are in place to achieve the required outcomes and deliverables from a project or portfolio of work.
We recommend taking some key steps to ensure that your project governance is as tight as possible. If your organization has a PMO, these should be embedded in normal practice. If no PMO is present, it can be incumbent upon the project manager to make sure that the critical elements of governance are in place.
Engage actively with your project sponsors
All projects have one or more sponsors with a vested interest in the outcome. These sponsors may take the form of a governing board, a steering group, or a senior manager; regardless of their role or position, it’s vital as a project manager that you engage actively with them. Doing so increases the quality of the feedback you will receive. Hearing and interpreting feedback from sponsors will help ensure that your project delivers the right outcome for your organization.
Sometimes, however, project sponsors aren’t as engaged as you may like them to be. In that case, consider articulating some of the anticipated benefits of project delivery or link your project sponsor’s priorities and purpose to project outcomes. It’s vital to keep sponsors motivated and involved.
Allocate time for governance activities
One of the most important elements of project planning is allocating time for project governance activities. By this, we mean those things that keep delivery on track: training, communications, reporting, etc. The value of allocating time to training shouldn’t be underestimated; as an example, our look at the importance of training to assist user adoption gives just one angle on why it’s an activity worthy of investment.
Whether you’re considering staff time or finances, these activities are not an also-ran, but a must-do. Build in the capacity for these activities from the start to make sure that your project stays on track. Introducing good processes and procedures allows sponsors to see that you’re doing the right things at the right time.
Get the documentation right
The amount and type of documentation you need will be led, to an extent, by the size and type of projects and the industry that you’re operating in, but the basics will always be present.
Ensure that all project sponsors are aware of the anticipated products from the outset:
- Share the project definition
- Make sure the business case is signed off
- Articulate the ‘how’ in the project plan
Gain agreement about the risks in the risk register, including how to treat and manage those risks, and understand what kind of reporting will be required throughout. Stick to your communications schedule and make sure that products are published on time.
Ensure that reporting provides the right information to the right people
Our final recommended step touches on reporting, and the ease to which you can extract information out of existing systems. Some organizations may need an upfront rethink about how to store and manage data, and as we’ve previously explored in our look at the value of data integration to good project management, it’s worth considering whether your current systems can easily support your project governance activities at the outset.
Reporting can be an important indicator for governance as it expresses the importance of systems of record, and how to make sure they are updated in a timely manner. Strong project governance requires visibility on progress at all stages of delivery, and is worthy of focus when considering governance activities.
Taking these key steps to success helps promote good project governance
For some organizations, good project governance flows naturally from a well-functioning PMO. For others, however, it’s important to work through these key steps to ensure that projects are well-run and well-supported by sponsors, senior management, and others.
Excellent project governance keeps stakeholders informed, provides transparency, gives a route for issue management and resolution, and defines the flow and dissemination of information. Our PMO support services can provide expert advice and guidance on how to achieve these aims, specializing in areas such as resource capacity planning, risk management, information governance, and assessment services. If you need support with your project governance structures, then get in touch to discuss how we can help you succeed.