Project Management Governance

November 10, 2010

Project management governance is the management framework that is put in place to expedite decisions made that are associated with a project. Much like a business governance model the governance of a project is just as important. Governance is critical to any successful organization or project. Therefore, the role of project governance is to provide a decision making framework that is well laid out, logical and has the ability to be repeated from project to project in order to protect an organizations assets. 1

The governance model factors of a project consist of management commitment, effective management structure, a strong program and/or project management process, communication/training and assurance processes. 2

Management commitment consists of policies and procedures, incentives to instill commitment and accountability, demonstrated senior management commitment, oversight, periodic updates to management, consistent program enforcement and appropriate disciplinary action.

Management structure is also a very important element to success and is comprised of clear responsibilities and accountability, sufficient and qualified resources, selecting key personnel and adequate reporting levels.
Ultimately, program management has to be in the mind of the project manager as well as the team. This consists of risk appraisals, interpretation of expectations, program implementation and communication, effective reporting, appropriate recordkeeping and monitoring of trends and best practices.

No project can be successful without adequate communication and training. On-going awareness and communication programs have to be incorporated at all levels within the structure. Training should be specific and targeted as well as measured to insure the effectiveness of the training.

Last, but definitely not least, is the assurance process surrounding the project. This involves periodic reviews of the program effectiveness by self monitoring, independent reviews and even third party reviews.

Project management governance has four key principles that lead to success. 3 One of these principles is making sure that a single point of accountability is selected. This accountability usually is a project manager with experience in leading a group. Secondly, customer delivery ownership should always determine project ownership. Another principle is to determine the separation of stakeholder management and project decision making activities. The last principle involves the separation of project governance and organizational governance structures.

Project governance will outline the relationships between all internal and external groups involved in the project. If a good governance program is developed, it should describe the proper flow of information regarding the project to all stakeholders. Two of the main outcomes of a good project governance program are making sure that the appropriate review of issues encountered within each project are addressed and that the required approvals and direction for the project is obtained at each appropriate stage of the project.

Important specifics of effective project management governance includes a compelling business case, an assessment process, business level requirements, specifications for the project deliverables and a project manager that is knowledgeable about the project, process and organization. The project manager should assign clear and accountable roles and responsibilities to the team, as well as, know the roles and responsibilities for the project manager role. A project plan should be completed that determines all project stages and that has specific points of determining success for the accomplishment of the goals aligned with each stage. Several procedures and process should be determined for change management issues, risks that have been identified and communicated and quality reviews. 4

By: Deb

1. Jed Simmons, Why Projects Fail: Part Six, Poor Project Governance, CIO, July 24, 2007.

2. Garland, Ross, Project Governance – a practical guide to effective project decision making, Kogan Page, London, Philadelphia, 2009.

3. Ralf Muller, Project Governance, PM Concepts, April, 2009.

4. International Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Governance – A Business Guide for Business Practitioners Everywhere, 2010.

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