Project governance is often misunderstood and undervalued in terms of being a critical element of delivering successfully on a project. A project governance plan is written, signed off by the board and then sits on the shelf right? Isn’t it one of those documents that is great to do, but does not add any value to doing the work?
If done right and embraced within a project team, all the elements of project governance can be brought to life as tangible, practical strategies to deliver success. The key elements that really drive high performance on a project are also the same things that should be included in a governance plan. Ten pieces of the puzzle include:
1. Client and Project Objectives
You cannot hit a target you can’t see. You have to ask your client what their objectives are and what the specific project objectives are. Without them, there may be energy devoted to items that don’t really matter or put in the wrong areas through making assumptions on what the client wants.
2. The Vision for the Project linked to a Project Charter
This is important to not only drive engagement with the project team but also to align all members to why we are here and what we are trying to achieve.
3. Values and Behaviours
Each project is driven by values that align the behaviours of the project team. They are needed to not only align but to also drive the behaviours from all parties which is particularly important for consortiums and clients who bring their own values to a project.
4. Roles and Responsibilities
Who is doing what and what are the key responsibilities of each part of the project and each participant is important. Without this role clarity, it is hard for each party to get on with the job of delivering the project quickly and decisively.
5. Expectations of the Board, Management Team and Project Team
Similar to the one above, there needs to be clear expectations around the various parts of the governance of the project. Is there an appropriate balance between being on the business and in the business between the board and management team? Does the project team know this split and who to go to?
6. Issue Resolution Matrix
Projects at some time will have disputes, challenges and items that need to be escalated. A good Issue Resolution Matrix contained with a governance plan will outline what needs to be escalated and when and to who in the project.
7. Authority Matrix and Accountabilities
Similar to an Issue Resolution Matrix, getting clear on authorities, delegations and budget owners allows decisions to progress quickly.
8. Governance Principles
For a board and management team in a project to effectively operate, there must be principles that govern their conduct. Documenting these and living them will ensure that the focus is on best for project outcomes.
9. Key Result Areas
A project will normally have a separate Key Result Area framework that documents the KPIs and the reporting mechanisms. Linking this to the governance plan also ensures the board and the management align their focus at their meetings to these key targets.
10. Board and Management Team agendas and reporting
The final piece in a good governance plan is having some focus around what the board and management team covers in their agendas, what reporting they focus on, how often they meet and how key actions are communicated back to the project team.
The preparation of a good governance plan is a great place to set up your project successfully. It brings together all the pieces of the project puzzle. The thinking, consultation and accountability it brings and the subsequent communication of it will lead to great engagement of all parts of a project.