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Mastering Project Governance: A Step-by-Step Guide 2023

Mastering project management


Welcome to the world of project governance, a critical cornerstone in achieving project success. It's the compass that guides the project ship, ensuring all hands are on deck, roles are clearly defined, and the course is set to achieve the project's objectives.

My step-by-step guide, "Mastering Project Governance," aims to be your trusted companion in understanding and implementing effective project governance. We'll cover the essential elements, from structure to people and information, and how to align them for your project's benefit.

Through the lens of industry experts and bolstered by real-life case studies, we will take a deep dive into the world of project governance. Get ready to navigate the complexities of project governance and set your projects on the path to success.

What is Project Governance?

Project governance is a fundamental aspect of project management, playing a crucial role in determining the success of a project. It refers to a framework of guidelines and activities that steer how a project is planned, executed, and managed. Think of it like the rudder of a ship, guiding the vessel (project) on its course.

Key Components of Project Governance

Project governance is not a one-size-fits-all concept and needs to be tailored to an organisation's specific needs. However, there are some key components that are universal:

  1. Governance Models: This requires defining an appropriate governance model that complements the organisation. It's a balancing act, as too much rigidity can annoy stakeholders, while a lack of governance can lead to disengagement.

  2. Accountability and Responsibilities: Clearly defining who is accountable for what is at the core of successful project governance. It's like assigning roles in a play; everyone needs to know their part for the show to go on smoothly.

By mastering these components, organisations can navigate the choppy waters of project management with ease and confidence.

The Purpose of Project Governance

Project governance, a vital element of successful project management, serves as the backbone of the project lifecycle. It's like the conductor of an orchestra, seamlessly aligning various components to create harmonious outcomes. Project governance offers a robust framework, including structured processes, decision-making models, and tools for managing and controlling a project. It ensures the project's successful delivery, especially in complex and high-risk scenarios.

Consider project governance as the foundation of a skyscraper. Without a solid base, even the tallest, most impressive buildings cannot withstand the test of time. Similarly, project governance lays the groundwork for project management, establishing clear roles and responsibilities, issue management, and effective communication.

It's the light in the fog, guiding the project's direction, ensuring it's the right project at the right time. It's like a compass, guiding you through the wilderness of project management, allowing for strategic selection and prioritisation of projects.

By implementing effective project governance, you can prevent the derailment of a well-planned project and pave the way for success. It's like having a secret weapon in your project management arsenal, allowing you to anticipate and address unseen issues. In short, project governance is not just a tool; it's a necessity for successful project management.

Who Should Be Involved in Governance?

Project governance, the backbone of successful project management, requires a collaborative effort from various key roles. The Executive Sponsor, the Steering Committee, and the Project Manager/Director form the trident of governance, each contributing uniquely to the project's success.

The Executive Sponsor, the project's primary shepherd, ensures the project's alignment with its defined outcomes. The Steering Committee, a group of decision-makers, provides strategic guidance, while the Project Manager/Director is the linchpin, managing the project's day-to-day operations.

Moreover, effective governance also involves the Stakeholders who the project deliverables can impact. A well-formulated communication plan is key to keeping all stakeholders informed ensuring smooth execution.

Strengthening governance can increase the likelihood of delivering projects on time, cost and scope. It standardises roles, drives timely decision-making, and ensures accountability.

The Components of Project Governance

Project governance is the backbone of any successful project, providing a solid framework for decision-making and accountability. Let's dive deep into the six essential components of project governance:

  1. Delegation of Responsibilities

Defining clear roles and responsibilities is crucial to avoid confusion and ensure smooth project execution. Each team member should understand their tasks, who they report to, and how their work contributes to the project's overall success. Accountability and responsibilities are integral to this component.

  1. Stakeholder Engagement

Identifying and engaging relevant stakeholders is pivotal for a project's success. It's the project manager's responsibility to ensure all stakeholders, from sponsors to the project team, are aligned with the project goals.

  1. Reporting & Data

Transparent and timely communication facilitates informed decision-making. A well-structured communication plan ensures all stakeholders are kept in the loop, promoting a healthy project environment.

  1. Risk Management

Risks are inherent in every project. Effective risk management helps identify potential hazards early on, allowing the team to take preventive measures or prepare contingency plans.

  1. Quality Control

Quality assurance is a non-negotiable aspect of project governance. Regular audits, reviews, and testing ensure the project deliverables meet the desired quality standards.

  1. Workflow Management

Effective workflow management ensures tasks are completed on time and resources are utilised efficiently. This involves monitoring task progress, managing resources, and adjusting schedules as needed.

To implement these components effectively, be adaptable, communicate openly, and foster a culture of accountability. Remember, a well-governed project is a successful project!

Roles within Project Governance

Project governance is a critical aspect of successful project management, with distinct roles playing vital parts in ensuring project success. These roles include the Project Manager, Stakeholders, Project Sponsor, Team Members, Advisors and consultants. Each role has unique responsibilities and contributions to the project's success.

Project Manager

The Project Manager serves as the central figure, responsible for creating the project plan, managing deliverables, recruiting personnel, and keeping top management updated regularly. Their role is essentially the heartbeat of the project, ensuring it stays on track and meets its objectives.


Stakeholders are those who have a vested interest in the project. They provide valuable input and feedback throughout the project, helping to shape its direction and outcomes.

Project Sponsor

The Project Sponsor is the project's champion, making critical business decisions, approving the budget, and promoting the project's objectives throughout the organisation.

Team Members

Team Members are responsible for following the project plan, schedule, budget, quality standards, and procedures, and they are accountable for the project output and quality.

Advisors & Consultants

Advisors and consultants bring specialised knowledge and expertise to the project, offering advice and guidance to ensure the project meets its objectives.

In conclusion, understanding these roles and their responsibilities is crucial for effective project governance and, ultimately, project success.

The Difference Between Project Management & Governance

Understanding the distinction between project management and project governance is crucial to the successful execution of any project. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they serve different yet interconnected roles in the project lifecycle.

Project Management Vs. Project Governance

Project management, as defined in the PMBOK Guide, involves the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. In essence, it's about planning, organising, monitoring, and controlling project activities.

On the other hand, project governance is the structure that permits decision-making. It's part of a broader corporate governance framework that ensures all actions are consistent and efficient. It provides clear lines of accountability, reporting, and communication for any project.

How They Work Together

Project governance and project management are like two sides of the same coin. Good governance creates a framework for effective management, and poor governance can lead to inefficient management. They both rely on clear lines of communication and reporting, working together to drive project success.

In essence, while project management navigates the ship, project governance ensures the ship is going in the right direction. When both work seamlessly together, project execution appears simple and efficient.

Creating Your Own Project Governance Structure

Creating an effective project governance structure is a multi-step process that requires careful planning and execution. Let's break it down:

  1. Identifying Key Roles and Responsibilities: According to PMI, defining accountability and responsibilities is vital in project management. This includes determining who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed for each project's deliverables.

  2. Establishing Communication Channels: Once stakeholders are identified, a well-formulated communication plan ensures concise, efficient, and timely information is delivered to all pertinent stakeholders.

  3. Defining Workflows and Processes: The governance model should include a clear outline of workflows and processes, including decision-making processes and escalation procedures.

  4. Implementing Risk Management Strategies: As JLL highlights, all projects carry some degree of risk. Thus, a robust risk management strategy is necessary.

  5. Establishing Quality Control Measures: These measures ensure the project aligns with the organisation's standards and objectives.

  6. Setting Up a Reporting System: Effective reporting systems help track project progress and aid in decision-making.

Remember, the structure should be customised to fit the needs of your organisation. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work. Be flexible and willing to adjust as necessary.

The Necessity of Project Governance in 2023

As we venture deeper into the digital age, the complexity and scope of projects have significantly increased, making effective project governance a critical success factor in 2023.

The current project management landscape is characterised by rapid changes and evolving challenges. Project governance serves as the rudder of a project ship, guiding it through tumultuous waters and ensuring it reaches the desired destination - project success.

Whether you're navigating the complexities of inter-organisational project networks or juggling various project management tools, a robust governance structure provides you with a blueprint for effective project management governance.

Moreover, it helps organisations adapt to changing times and overcome project hurdles through clear communication channels, defined roles, and systematic risk management.

In essence, mastering project governance in 2023 is not a luxury but a necessity for achieving project goals and driving business success.

Real-World Case Studies

Delving into the realm of project governance, let's embark on a journey through real-life examples of successful implementations. These case studies shed light on the critical role project governance plays in the success of a project.

  1. Smartsheet's Project Management

Smartsheet, a leading project management tool, offers a variety of project management templates and resources. The company's success can be attributed to its governance structure that facilitates efficient project management. Key features include a dashboard gallery, a step-by-step guide to their API, and the use of generative AI to empower users.

  1. Knowledge Hut's Corporate Training

Knowledge Hut, a renowned corporate training provider, offers a wide array of project management courses. Their governance model ensures students gain real-world, practical knowledge, making their training programs a success.

  1. Project Management Institute (PMI)

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global leader in project management, known for its robust governance framework. PMI's success stories are a testament to how effective project governance can lead to successful project outcomes.

In conclusion, these case studies illustrate the importance of effective project governance in driving project success. It's not just about managing tasks but about creating a framework that ensures project goals are achieved.

The Importance of Certifications & Community in Project Governance

If you're a project manager or part of a project team, one of the best ways to elevate your project governance skills is through certifications and becoming part of the project management community.

Obtaining recognised certifications from institutions like the Project Management Institute not only validates your knowledge and skills but also keeps you updated on the latest governance best practices and project management standards. It's akin to adding fuel to your professional engine, driving you towards excellence.

Moreover, joining a project management community can be a game-changer. It's a collaborative platform where you can learn from industry veterans, share your insights, and get feedback on your project challenges. Picture it as a vibrant marketplace of ideas where wisdom and experiences are traded.

In the project management community, you are never alone. You are part of a global network of professionals striving for project success, making it an invaluable resource for mastering project governance.


Understanding and implementing good project governance is a cornerstone of project success. The knowledge and strategies divulged in this article serve as a comprehensive guide to mastering project governance. From defining roles to managing risks and establishing communication channels, the power of successful project governance lies in its ability to provide a solid foundation for project management.

Embracing these practices will help both new and seasoned project managers to streamline processes, mitigate challenges and ultimately achieve project goals. Remember, the path to effective project governance is a continuous learning journey fuelled by your relentless pursuit to drive project success.

So, begin your journey today. Implement the insights shared in this article and take the first step towards mastering project governance and enhancing your project management capabilities.

About the Author

The expert voice behind this comprehensive guide to project governance is Richard Keenlyside. With over two decades of experience in the realm of project management, Richard has led and transformed project teams across multiple sectors. He is a certified project management expert with a particular focus on project governance and innovative project business systems.

Richard's speciality lies in designing and implementing project management governance models that align with organisational goals and enhance project performance. His work has been recognised in numerous industry publications, including the Project Management Journal.

Richard is passionate about helping both new project managers and seasoned leaders master project governance. He believes that good governance is key to project success, and he's committed to sharing his knowledge with the world. For more insights from John, you can check out his articles on project planning, project feedback, and project health.

Further Reading

To further expand your knowledge and understanding of project governance, we recommend the following resources:

  • Books: 'Navigating Complexity: A Practice Guide' (Project Management Institute) and 'The Executive Sponsor's Guide: For Project Success' (Paul C. Dinsmore PMP).

  • White papers: 'Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation' (Flyvbjerg, Bent) and 'From Project to Program Management: A Narrative of the Journey' (Thiry, Michel).

  • Case studies: 'A Project Management Case Study in the Automotive Industry' (European Management Journal) and 'Project Governance in Practice: The Role of the Project Sponsor' (International Journal of Project Management).

  • Online resources: Visit the Project Management Institute (PMI) website for a wealth of resources on project governance, including articles, webinars, and templates.

These resources provide valuable insights, practical tips, and best practices for implementing effective project governance. Whether you're a novice project manager or a seasoned leader, they can help you enhance your skills and drive project success.

Related Content

As part of your ongoing journey to master project governance, we recommend some curated articles. These pieces offer further insights into the world of project management and the integral role that governance plays.

In addition to these articles, "The Silo Mentality Explained" is a must-read, shedding light on how silos can pose challenges to effective project governance and management and how to overcome them.

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