running race track with two sprint lanes to show on projects on track

Whether your project is big or small, you know that you need to devote both time and resources to give it the best chance of a successful conclusion. Sometimes a project is not successful, even when you have a skilled project manager and a dedicated team working on it.

But, having good project governance in place can improve your chances of getting your project over the line. This systematic approach to project management can have a significant impact on how successfully your project proceeds.



Project governance defined

Project governance consists of the processes, policies, procedures, standards and guidelines that shape how your organisation leads, runs and controls projects. It provides your organisation with a framework that ensures accountability and alignment between your project team, your organisation’s senior management and your project’s stakeholders.

Project governance gives you a framework for deciding which projects to undertake. It gives you an understanding of how the project will be structured, and the information and teams required to fulfil the project scope.  This can also help you understand when a project is not going to plan, what needs to be changed or even if the project should be closed altogether. Project governance will also help you to complete projects on time and on budget by fostering collaboration with stakeholders to facilitate effective decision-making. Your focus when making key decisions should be on how both decisions shape the project and in which direction the project will go.

Many larger organisations have a function that is responsible for program governance and formalises the process within the organisation. However, many companies may need to pull together a team from around their organisation, some of whom have no formal PM experience. Regardless of the internal organisation, it is essential that the project has a structured approach so that it can be monitored and measured.


The importance of project governance


Of course, your key stakeholders want to see that you’re spending the budget for the project in line with the project’s agreed objectives. They also want to validate that you are tracking the progress of the project effectively and that you are evaluating and managing project risk by intervening to make changes when necessary.

If you are in the public sector, good project governance can also require effective interaction with government regulatory agencies. In many cases, these agencies can require that your project meets certain standards and that you can document your project operates following the specific regulations and guidance for your operations.

Effective project governance also assists you to:

  • Get initial buy-in for your project from stakeholders
  • Communicate and collaborate with all parties involved more effectively
  • Introduce standardisation across all your projects, making it simpler to compare their performance and help you become more efficient on future projects
  • Develop and motivate your staff in a structured environment, making your team work more efficiently and effectively.

Project governance activities


Now that you have a definition of project governance and an understanding of why it’s important, here are some of the activities that show proper project governance at work.


Decision-making process


In an ideal world, your organisation would have a well-defined project decision-making process in place that includes defined approval points where the team discusses the viability of the project and decides whether the project should proceed any further. Before the project begins, the project leaders need to reach a clear consensus on how to recognise, classify and deal with the risk that might occur during the life of the project. Projects have clear, quantifiable reasons for being considered for approval and have data available to allow your project management team to make informed decisions about the viability of the project.  It is crucial that decisions are documented and communicated to everyone involved.


Project teams


Ideally, project management teams consist of people who have relevant experience and are qualified to take on their assigned roles, and the project manager is responsible for determining who does what, and the levels responsibility and accountability. Putting processes and procedures in place allows project teams to evaluate the project on an ongoing basis and document the need for additional resources as and when they are needed. An objective evaluation of the team’s performance and discussions around the lessons you’ve learned in an environment that doesn’t point the finger allows lessons to be carried on to future projects.


Meetings and reporting


Communicating information is essential, and you will need to establish the proper balance between generating reports and having meetings. The complexity of the project and the types of issues that need resolution will set the requirement for the report/meeting mix.  It’s important to let everyone know how and when they will receive information updates on the project.

Stakeholder engagement. Identifying all the stakeholders involved in your project is crucial to understanding the environment in which your project operates. Stakeholders can have either a positive or negative impact on your project, and if you neglect to include an important stakeholder in the planning process, they could use their influence to disrupt your project.


Stakeholder communication


After you identify your stakeholders, you need to develop a plan to communicate with them and get the right information to the right people. Your communication plan should specify the manner in which you will share relevant messages with your stakeholders to ensure they understand how the project is proceeding and be aware of any unexpected issues that have developed.


Stakeholder assurance


The easiest way to keep your stakeholders having a favourable view of the project is to assure them that the project is on schedule and on budget is to send regular reports to update them. This information gives them the checks and balance they need for assurance that the project is heading in the right direction. The data will show them if there are any significant changes from the project outline you agreed at the start of the project.

If you take the view that the primary objective of project governance is to make sure that project activities are carried out correctly, you can see how project governance links to the overall management of your organisation in terms of financial performance and risk.


Improve project governance with Verto


Verto can provide you with work collaboration and project management software that helps the project management office and stakeholders interact more efficiently and improves project control.

Our cloud-based software provides dashboard status and reports as well as document storage and sharing. Get in touch with us, follow us on LinkedIn and chat with us on Twitter to learn more about our ideas and software.