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Project Governance as a Linkage Mechanism

Eric McConnell
March 3, 2011

Learn to oversee and proactively manage project changes

Project GovernanceAs a project gets into the initiation phase, it requires an effective linkage mechanism that ensures alignment between the strategic project objectives and direction, and the path to planned outcomes over the implementation life-cycle of the project.

In other words, such a mechanism must help sustain the project’s potential to deliver the stated benefits. Moreover, this mechanism must provide oversight and control over the project during the execution process. It must help managers and leaders to assess the project’s current progress and adjust content and direction to the objectives if necessary. The mechanism should also allow senior management to refine the definition of success and maintain alignment with the evolving project plan.
project setup and initiation phase
All this is about the mechanism of project governance. After the Project Setup phase is finished the project implementation gets initiated and the need for the governance mechanism rises up. To set up the necessary linkage, oversight and control described above, the project must institute effective governance which is defined below:

Project Governance Definition

In terms of effective project implementation, Project Governance is a group of individuals carrying out executive and management roles, project oversight functions and procedures organized into structures, and formal policies that define project management principles and decision making rules. The project governance group focuses upon setting up the general guidance and oversight from the very beginning of the implementation process, and providing feedback and expert advice on the contribution made by the project to producing desired outcomes within the overall project objectives and direction.

The concept of project governance has several dimensions: people, roles, structures, policies. Governing project work is a more complex undertaking as compared to project management, and it is critical to set up a framework for overseeing and proactively managing the dynamically  governance dimensions. People involved in the project must create and agree a single governance structure and a set of governance functions in order to provide effective tools for identifying, assessing and responding to both external and internal events and changes occurring during the project implementation life-cycle.

Project Governance Goals

As a linkage mechanism, project governance addresses the following key goals:

  • Define and implement a complete structure for setting up and executing project management and administration.
  • Provide active direction and oversight.
  • Make periodical reviews of interim results.
  • Identify and apply adjustments necessary for ensuring successful achievement of the planned outcomes (which contribute to success of the overall project implementation).

To reach these goals, the performing organization must define, agree upon and implement a framework within the program effort. This framework should fits into the existing organizational dynamics and practices. Also for Active direction and oversight, there should be a combination of the right individuals and a set of project management roles and responsibilities. Roles and responsibilities should be well defined and structured, with reference to the required project outcomes and expected benefits, and adjusted to the phasing process and evaluation methodology (which have been defined during the Project Setup Process).

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