Is your governance structure driving your project forward?

The importance of putting strong project governance structures in place should not be underestimated when it comes to making decisions that allow your project to be delivered in a timely and cost effective manner. A marriage between the right people and a robust governance process can often be as difficult to achieve as confirming which come first – the chicken or the egg…

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So what is governance? In short it is the manner in which project expectations are determined, it defines the authority to make decisions and it provides verification that aligns performance with the agreed expectations. At its core, governance works well when the right people are identified and empowered to lead and make decisions in a timely and effective manner within a defined and agreed governance framework. You cannot have one without the other.

Too often project decisions are made by a ‘committee’ where compromises dilute the effectiveness of the decisions being made. A decision made to appease all often leads to appeasing no one. Individuals often feel nervous making critical decisions alone and either makes poor decisions, defer decisions or make none at all. Without people who are willing to act and make the hard decisions the project will suffer. After all, senior people are paid the big money for a reason: ultimately to make the tough decisions.

If having individuals take control of the project is critical, having a clear governance process is equally so. Six main areas should be explored to determine the governance needs of a project and how best to structure governance arrangements so that added value can be achieved across the full lifecycle of the project.

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Putting strong governance principles and processes is place is not always easy. They need to be constantly reviewed to ensure that they continue to be best for project. Equally, the performance of all team members also needs to be reviewed. These reviews ensure that team members continue to have the ability to discharge their duties in the most appropriate manner, are making decisions in line with governance arrangements and are providing the necessary leadership to those around them. If not proactively managed, something as simple as a change of personnel can render the whole governance framework ineffective.

While getting the mix between the right people and the right governance framework may seem problematic – deciding whether the chicken or the egg comes first – the reality is that both are important and both are needed for the project to achieve success. Most importantly, both elements need to be developed and reviewed in parallel, so that the issue is not what came first, but rather that one informs the other for the benefit of the whole.

One thing is sure: all projects require effective governance at every level.