Categorized | Management

What Is Project Governance?

Project governance is actually a really important part of any project because it is in essence the management framework that will support decision making within the project, ensuring that the project remains on track and the deliverable achievable.

There is a need to have a project governance policy that will set out the framework for decision making in a manner that is robust, logical and compliant with company policies. The framework will show who is responsible for what and who can do what.

There are various principles that govern the area of project governance. One of the most fundamental of these is accountability. Project governance ensures accountability through appropriate roles and responsibilities coupled with appropriate hierarchy.

There is no point in making a junior clerk accountable; it has to be the project manager or a person who has enough responsibility and authority to be the person who should assume the role of decision maker.
Another fundamental principle of project governance is that the project must be fit for purpose and must meet the needs of those who own the deliverable. The project outputs must support service delivery requirements, or else the project has failed. It may only have partially failed, but it has still failed.

Project governance also plays an important role in the way that it seeks to separate the project management decisions and activities from those that are specifically relevant to stakeholder management decisions. The more people who are involved in any decision making the more difficult decision making becomes. Anyone who has experienced ‘design by committee’ will know that it can be painful. The more people involved, the less easy it becomes to form agreement. But in a project there is a need to have decisions taken promptly. If the stakeholders do not understand the difference between their own management decisions and those specifically relating to the project, then the whole process can become bogged down in trivia. So project governance clearly sets out the decision making process and separates the two roles.

Projects by their very nature require decisions that are made quickly, without fuss or delay and that is why the decision making process is set out so clearly within the project governance structure.
The project governance document will clearly indicate who does what, responsibilities, accountability and so on, but there is a very hidden side to project governance and that is simply that it ensures that everyone acts appropriately.

Although cutting corners can be useful in business, there are times when it is not appropriate, and on large, publicly funded projects there is a real need to act in a way that shows probity and transparency. The project governance strategy offers guidance and sets standards.

Although project governance can be seen as something else to do and almost too detailed to be useful, it is incredibly useful simply because it focuses everyone on what is to be achieved, how it will be achieved and who will be accountable. Its use within smaller projects is not so widespread, but for larger projects it is an invaluable tool and it cannot be ignored, if full transparency and accountability is to be achieved!

Leave a Reply