Governance – The Real Trick

Projects benefit from a sound and comprehensive governance structure consisting of an engaged sponsor and a steering committee of stakeholders that have a vested interest and influence over the project results. Assembling this body of stakeholders is not particularly complex, especially when an engaged project manager partners with business analysts to ensure stakeholders are encouraged to participate. Setting up an appropriate stage gate and decision making schedule is also not difficult as examples of best practice in this area are abundant.

So why are there so many issues with project governance? What is the trick with making project governance work properly? The difference between success and failure in this area involves ensuring the members of the steering committee are prepared to participate and make the decisions they have to make to steer the project properly. Often this means educating senior leaders who do not believe they need educating.

The critical elements that lead to good governance are the information that is weighed by the committee members and their ability to understand the decisions they will be asked to make. The project manager who focuses on preparing the steering committee members approaches them in advance with pivotal questions:

  • What information will you require to make decision X about the project?
  • Do you have other information that should be considered for the decisions that are likely to be needed?

These questions educate the stakeholders relative to their role as a steering committee member and the issues they may face. If information is not forthcoming about the information they will need to make a decision, the project manager and business analyst can “fill in the blanks.” Suggestions as to what data can be provided, and a guide to the “multiple choice questions” the project manager can bring forward can proactively prepare and educate the steering committee members for their role.

Is your project governance structure well formed AND prepared to make the decisions they need to make? What information can you provide to them to proactively prepare them for the decisions they need to make?

Note: If you or your organisation want assistance with training your sponsors and governance teams, check out our one day Project Governance and Sponsorship workshop at