The way projects operate can sometimes look chaotic from the outside. Hell, it can look chaotic from the inside too. That’s where project governance comes in.
Over the past week I’ve been rifling through a list of categories for jobs, on the lookout for the different types of project manager roles across various industries. In addition to unearthing some very specific job titles such as ‘armoured car escort’ and some rather vague ones, like ‘diver’ (pearl diver? Athlete? Instructor? Clearance diver?) there was a whole category for ‘Executive/Corporate Strategy’. Sadly, none of the specialisations denoted ‘project’, ‘program’ or ‘portfolio’.
It doesn’t matter how many people there are on a project, someone is always responsible for its governance. Whether this person or these people are aware of it or not is a test of the level of maturity the organisation has in running projects.
On very small projects, it’s quite possible that the project manager wears most of the hats, including the governance one. On larger projects, you would expect a steering committee or project board to take the reins. Mostly these people come from the executive level and often comprise the project sponsors and stakeholders who must decide on the direction the project should take after it has started.
But governance isn’t just about deciding which direction to take. This direction should have already been mapped out during the project initiation phase. The role of those in governance is to ensure that the project progresses along an acceptable path, taking into account changing circumstances that may involve executing contingency plans, minimising new threats or pursuing fresh opportunities.
Unwittingly, governance happened to be the theme of the past week, addressing the hard questions:
- Who should govern a project?
- How can we govern for long-term sustainability?
- How can we take the ‘control’ out of governance and evoke innovation?
I hope these articles provide food for thought.