Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Governance committees that actually work

Corinne Forrest | July 10, 2014
Some project governance committees really do work. Stop laughing. I've seen some outstandingly effective committees that contribute to organisational value and make everyone's life more productive. No really, quit laughing now.

These companies rely on tightly scripted meetings, objective analyses and decision frameworks to unite executives around a common vision.

Consequently, they rollout failsafe, architecturally-aligned projects which use the optimal amount of resources and deliver value.

Although committee meetings and decision frameworks are absolutely essential for effective project investment and delivery, they're a poor stand-in for an integrated approach to governance.

Roles and decision-making rights need be well defined

This is the easiest way to roll out effective project governance. Making good decisions and making them happen quickly by the appropriate authority attached to the correct role are the hallmarks of high-performing project environments.

The most important step in streamlining project governance is assigning clear roles and responsibilities, defining who needs to agree, who should have input, who has ultimate responsibility for making decisions, and who is accountable for follow-through.

By highly prescribing these roles and rights, committees make decisions faster and ensure that they are executed. Any decision outside of the authority of the chair, sponsor or committee is escalated to a higher entity, specified within the governance architecture.

Keep it simple, necessary, and mandatory

A well-functioning PPM governance committee system requires eternal vigilance. They're successful if they adhere to a few simple rules.

First, identify the function within the governance framework the committee should perform — investment decisions should be made by an investment committee, execution decisions by a project or program board, portfolio delivery issues governed by a portfolio group.

Once established, give it a highly defined charter with ironclad rules with members selected only if they play a functional, advisory or decision-making role. This approach goes a long way towards eliminating opinion givers or interested parties.

If members excuse themselves too often, caution them or replace them. In the government IT department, some program boards had not met for 6 months because the chair people were too busy.

The executive team picked up the slack for the program boards and made decisions on the boards' behalf while the original program chairs retained the right to veto any executive decision they didn't like. This was clearly a significant failure of governance.

Assign people to committees carefully

The make-up of any committee obviously has to match the committee's requirements: the right skills, seniority levels and representation from relevant functions or departments.

Define roles based on the project's requirements and prescribe what those roles will do with a chair to whom all decision-making rights are devolved. Some research suggests that there exists a best number of committee members.

I don't agree. The ideal number of committee members should be determined by the function the committee performs and what decisions must be made and by whom.


Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.