Role of Governance in Project Management

Governance in project management

Project governance is the framework that allows organizations to lay out roles and responsibilities surrounding a project. While governance structures that companies already have in place are a good starting point, they are usually not applicable to project governance, as projects require a different, more dynamic, approach.  

Project management governance needs to be tailored to reflect the specifics of an organization, but its principles are applicable to the majority of projects and organizations. In this post, we’ll focus on the role of project governance and address some of the basic concepts. We’ll also take a brief look at project governance from beginning to end, as well as showcase some of the tools that are used for project governance. 

The main purpose of project governance is to provide a decision-making framework. It allows the involved parties to set strategic direction and make sure that the project aligns with the organization’s needs, make decisions that are outside of the project manager’s competence, and provide oversight to ensure that everything in the project is going in the right direction. 

During the project mobilization phase, it is important to gain alignment and consensus of people working on the project, as well as other stakeholders. Everyone involved should be aware of the business case behind the project. While it is important to keep stakeholders informed and engaged, it is equally important to have separate project ownership. From the get-go, everyone involved should know the background of the project, its timeline, goals, scope, deliverables, and budget.  

All of these essentials should be outlined in a brief project charter. The project charter should always include a RACI model. The RACI matrix maps out tasks, milestones, and key decisions that are involved in completing a project and assigns roles to project stakeholders. Creating a RACI matrix outlines who is responsible for an item, who is accountable, and who needs to be consulted or informed.  

Whoever is responsible is actually doing the work and completes tasks and objectives assigned to them. These people typically report to the person accountable, i.e., the person who ultimately signs off on the objectives. Subject matter experts with good knowledge of a topic are usually consulted, while top management and other stakeholders that are not directly involved with the project but still need to be updated on its progress are informed. Sometimes, the person responsible and accountable can be one person, but otherwise, it is important to clearly separate the roles to not create confusion. 

At the beginning of the project and each major phase, kick-off meetings help ensure that all resources understand their roles and responsibilities. It also allows all parties to review deliverables, timelines, and methodologies. 

Weekly project team meetings are helpful to review the overall status of the project, key risks associated with it, and to ensure that all open critical issues have the appropriate resources assigned to them. 

Steering committee meetings are much less frequent, but should still have pre-determined frequency, usually monthly. They are a great platform to update the project sponsors and stakeholders on progress and review project risks and risk mitigation strategies. They also allow the project team to seek guidance to resolve key issues. 

When it comes to regular day-to-day meetings, having a GRPI can go a long way. GRPI stands for Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal Relationships which are the four critical aspects of teamwork.  

Goals allow us to understand the core purpose of the meeting. Meetings without a goal or a purpose can be inefficient. A role statement clearly defines each participant’s responsibility and authority to support achieving the goals. It gives them a clear picture of what is expected of them.  

Processes describe the way the meeting will be approached, such as problem-solving methods, communication procedures, etc. Finally, good interpersonal relationships, such as a positive approach and communication, help the participants achieve the goal. 

After the project is completed, it is useful to debrief, go over lessons learned, and see where there is room for future improvement regardless of whether it is in the governance, performance, or execution. 

Effective project governance is essential for projects of all sizes and can make a difference between the successful completion of a project and its failure. It needs to be tailored to the specific project and organization and should always be logical and not too burdensome.  

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