Planning and Building Governance Structure and Processes

In the Project Preparation Phase, in conjunction with the other planning work, project managers should also dedicate time to establish the project governance required for the successful project implementation. One of the main goals is to develop the Project Governance Plan.

Tool: Project Governance Plan. See Template 12: Project Governance Plan on page 281 in Appendix A for an example of governance plan. This template contains many of the common project governance considerations (Table 19.2).

Table 19.2 Example of Governance Principles






Transparency is often synonymous with openness, and it involves creating an atmosphere of candidness in which project team members know how decisions are made. It also enables fact-based decision making based on high quality information that is correct, unambiguous, easily accessible.

Generally, transparency is led from the top, as each level of the organization brb achieve transparency for subordinate levels. It can also work sideways or multidirectional on more complex projects with both internal and external stakeholders.


Responsibility and Accountability

These two terms are often confused, especially because these concepts tend to be used together. The primary difference is that responsibility can be delegated as in the example of assigning a new champion whose job is to promote the project. But accountability cannot be delegated, and even when it is, "the buck still stops here" with the accountable party.



This is the principle in which all parties and considerations will be treated equally and without bias. For example, if a manager feels that the governance body is making biased decisions unfavorable for the manger's area, then when time comes for execution, the manager may not support the decision fully by holding back on the resources required for implementation.

Source: These examples are adopted from Wu, T. & Chatzipanos, P., 2018. Implementing Project Portfolio Management: / Companion Guide to Project Portfolio Management. Chapter 4 Portfolio Governance by Nick Clemens, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA.

Operating Governance

Project managers are responsible for the routine operation of the project governance functions, and the governance body themselves are accountable for the key decisions and effectiveness of the project governance. The question on the actual implementation of project governance depends on many factors. The art of management is finding what works at a minimum cost and risk. For project management, it is relatively simple to suggest a thorough process of managing project decisions. But project managers must also balance the cost versus the benefits. When project managers establish too much or too heavy processes, the entire governance may appear to be bureaucratic. But when it is lighter than the requirement, governance may be ineffectual.

Tlie key for project managers is to find the optimal balance of what are the essential decisions and guidance required by the governance but also keeping the process relatively light and adaptive. For example, should project managers design the same three-tier governance structure for a $10 million dollar project versus a $1 million project? The answer is that there is not enough information in this example to establish a credible answer. There are other factors of consideration, such as the potential damage if the project were to deliver poor results. For example, the relative worst-case scenario for the $10 million project is a loss of $100 million revenue. But for the $1 million project that upgrades a mission critical system, every minute of poor calculation can be a loss of $1 million. Within a few hours, the penalty of poor calculations can be in the hundreds of millions. In this case, the smaller project clearly requires more governance attention than the larger project.

Governance team may also have specialized focuses that should be designed into the guidelines. For example, on highly innovative projects, the governance guidance may embrace rapid prototyping and adaptive designs. As such, project managers should design rapid escalation processes, so problems can be raised through the organization quickly.

In addition to making key decisions, governance often also have the accountability of oversight and control - making sure the project continues to be aligned with the strategic objectives throughout the project life cycle. When there are deviations, governance should also direct project managers to make adjustments to projects and to steer the project back to the approved paths. Often, governance board members sit higher level in organizations, and thus they have different visibility of the organization and the business environment. Therefore, governance also has the responsibility of observing the macrointernal and external environment and adjust courses as required throughout the Implementation Phase of the project.

Authorizing Project Transition and/or Closure

As a project completes the work, project governance is accountable to review and approve the deliverables. When there are doubts or uncertainties, governance can order project audits to validate the work being performed. After signing off on the project deliverables, project managers can then start to transition the project to the next team or to close the project.

Prior to terminating the project, project governance should participate in the postproject evaluation exercises and work with the project manager and provide guidance on updating key project documentations and close out of all project activities. In some organizations, the governance team members also have the responsibility of disseminating good project practices and lessons learned to the rest of the organization.

Project Management in Motion

This book is intended for a wide range of audiences and across various industries and functions. Therefore, to balance between competing demands of ease of use, comprehensiveness, modularity, flexibility, and upgradeability, the author has adopted a modular format to this book. This includes the relatively short chapters on key topics. In addition, the appendices include three vital sections:

■ Appendix A contains a list of commonly used project management templates for both predictive and adaptive project management approaches.

■ Appendix В contains an integrated case study based on a fictitious global company undertaking a number of projects and confronting various project challenges. The case maps closely to the chapters and sections, key concepts, and relevant tools of this book. The goal is to provide instructors, students, and practitioners with a realistic project example to practice and apply the key learnings in the book. For more information and additional case studies in which the author plans to create over time, including potential collaboration opportunities, visit

■ Appendix C contains a glossary of selective terms, reprinting with permission from Dr. Те Wu and Mr. Brian Williamson’s book titled “The Sensible Guide to Key Terminologies in Project Management", iExperi Press, Montclair, NJ.

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