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Why Every Project Manager Should Know About Project Governance

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When I first started out, I wasn't familiar with project governance structure. I wasn't alone, though. Apparently in the world of governance, ignorance on the part of the project manager isn't surprising.

Project governance helps make sure that a project is executed according to the standards of the organization performing the project. Governance keeps all project activities above board and ethical, and also creates accountability.

A project governance structure will also help define a project reporting system. It outlines specific roles and responsibilities for everyone involved in the project. Project managers can leverage a governance structure in their projects to help with setting project priorities.

By understanding how governance fits into the larger organization, a project manager can choose which objectives to pursue. Or, he or she can gain support to change objectives that don't align with the overall organizational goal. By monitoring governance, the project manager helps ensure his or her project will stay in tune with organizational expectations and remains a good investment as it continues in its lifecycle. 

A project manager can also use the steering committees that are part of most governance structures to resolve conflicts. Because steering committee members don't work on the project on a daily basis, the can serve as fresh eyes to see what's causing the conflict and offer an outside voice of reason. They can also offer solutions on how to resolve the conflict and adhere to the standards -- while still sticking to the overall goals of the organization.

What do you think? How do you leverage governance structures?


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I was wondering if anyone has a Governance Model that includes Partner / Joint Venture organizations.

All the models I have seen assume that Governance (and funding etc.) are all within the same organization but I work in an industry where having a Partner is the norm and we can not just make a decision on whether a Project proceeds or is cancelled without considering the 3rd party.

Sometimes we are the party performing the work and sometimes we are the non-operating partner. Is the governance model different in each of these cases?

Project Governance is an essential foundation and should be shared with key stakeholders from the beginning of project i.e. project kick-off. All stakeholders should have a clear picture on project key resources (including sponsors), roles and resonsibilities, project communication plan and its delivery method and content, risk mitigation, issue resolution and escalation management. These become guidelines for project governance and information flow during all phases of the project.

Project governance is for everybody. Enforcement to comply to projecct governence should come from the sponsor. Project manager is responsible to ensure compliance to the governance and team members are responsible to execute task as per the governance.

Totally agree. Having and using the right governance model in your project guarantees half of the success. One of the main actors in the governances structure is the project sponsor. Have him or her fully involved!

The governance and governance structure was already extensively discussed in the Program Management and now It is treated in the Project Management.

It is good to know that some relevant concepts about governance are now directed to projects. I'm sure that for some projects this is very relevant to define the accountability, how to control and monitor the project success.

Project governance is a missing link between corporate governance and project management.

I agree, project managers should know about project governance because it is a critical success factor for the delivery of projects and it helps to align the objectives of the project with the objectives of the organization.

But project managers are not responsible for project governance. Mangers manage and governors govern.

Well, I think this has direct link with organizational strategy and culture. Project managers certainly need to know about project governance and should be practicing to align with organizational objectives.

Periodic reviews, dashboards, periodic analysis of project activities in line with organizational objectives can help in project governance.

Do you know RACI governance structure?

R: Responsible
A: Accountable
C: Consultable
I: Informed

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