Project Governance

Are you having trouble figuring out where your company’s project money is being spent? Or having trouble tracking a project’s progress? Or dealing with project team members not communicating between themselves? Then, what you need is Project Governance.

People often get confused between project management and project governance. I would like to give you a better perspective on this, based on my 28+ years’ experience in IT Services and Consulting experience, and setting up and managing large onshore-offshore programs for clients globally.

Project governance occurs mainly outside the traditional boundaries of a project. In general terms, it involves the project sponsor (an executive member) leading the project to above-average performance while taking into account risks & mitigations. Project governance provides a way for senior management to exercise effective oversight and ensure project strategies & processes are well laid out for the clients to realize benefits.

Project management, on the other hand, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. In other words, it involves planning, organizing, monitoring the project activities in order to accomplish the project requirements.

So the difference between project governance and project management is considerable in focus and intent. It is important we use these terms in the correct context and for the right reasons.

Projects ideally sit within a governance framework and it is actually easier to work in an environment where there is governance in place because it gives you boundaries. People usually perform and respond well when they know how far they can go.

But what does governance on projects actually look like? Here are some of the factors that make up good governance –

1. Have a Project Sponsor: A good governance model requires every project to have a sponsor. To my disbelief, I still come across projects wherein people aren’t aware of who the sponsor is. A sponsor should be appointed much before the project gets initiated. He or she is responsible for the business case. When the project is approved he/she is responsible for finding the resources and setting the vision for the team. A sponsor has all the rights and is empowered to take decisions.

2. Draw up a Project Charter: This is a very critical document to have. It describes the project vision and objectives. It also has the overall project execution strategy, scope, business needs, assumptions and constraints, benefits of the project to the client, high level project timelines, people roles and responsibilities. The key purpose of a Charter is to define exactly what does the project need to achieve to be successful.

3. Have a Plan: It is imperative that every project has a plan. The project management plan is the responsibility of the project manager, although everyone in the team will end up having to add input to it. A plan is the foundation for the governance and structure for the work to be done.

4. Have Clear Reporting: People within a project must understand who’s who and to whom they are reporting into. It is equally important to understand the reporting lines on the client’s side so that appropriate communication lines/protocols can be setup for regular client-vendor project status communications & reviews.

5. Have Clear Roles & Responsibilities: Each individual on the project must be made aware what he or she is responsible for and what the expectations are from them. Unclear responsibilities would create confusion and people wouldn’t know who is supposed to do what.

6. Manage Lessons Learned: While everyone understands the importance of conducting a “lessons learnt” exercise at the end of the project, but most times it is not done. Lessons learned feed into governance because it shows you have a culture of continuous improvement. Teams cannot afford to make the same mistakes again on the new/next projects.

The above listed are some of the key factors that help in building good governance on the projects and I am sure having this followed in a disciplined manner would surely benefit not just your clients but also your organization as well in terms of continuous improvement.

At Symbio, before initiating any engagement we ensure that the above mentioned key factors are clearly laid down and implemented. That helps not just from delivery governance perspective but also makes the client comfortable in Symbio’s overall project management practice.