Guide to Project Governance in Project Management

Editorial Team

Project Governance in Project Management

Governance plays a key role in ensuring success in project management. It provides for checks and balances, which are necessary for managers to know that their money is being used appropriately in a manner that aims to satisfy the business goals.

Project governance is also used as a tool for monitoring progress. It allows senior management to know that their teams are performing well and reassure them that the project is progressing in the right direction.

 In this article, we are going to break down everything concerning project governance and all it entails and its relevance. I hope that you will be well equipped with all you need to know about project governance at the end of the article.

What is Project Governance?

Project governance refers to the framework within which a project progresses, and decisions are made. It entails the policies, processes, standards, procedures, and guidelines that determine how the project runs and is controlled.  

Project governance also looks into the amount of finances, the type of personnel, and the material required for a successful undertaking and project completion. Depending on the work environment and culture, project management can be heavy, whereby lots of bureaucracy involved or light where minimal oversight is required. 

It is crucial that the governance policies you settle on are compatible with the type of project being undertaken to guarantee success.

Why Project Governance is Critical

In every project, the project financiers and other stakeholders always want to know that the project budget is being spent appropriately. They would like to have the assurance that you are keeping track of the progress being made and managing any risks involved in the project and in the best way possible.

It is important to note that project governance goes beyond the internal requirements of the project. In most cases, the clients, especially those in the public sector, demand some sort of governance structure and may even enforce standard requirements for certain projects. Therefore, adherence to external legislation is crucial in project governance. These may be to ensure accurate audits, accountability, and transparency.

Having excellent project governance structures in place allows you to prove that your business is operating legitimately within the laid-out guidelines and regulatory requirements of the industry you operate in.

Some of the other critical role played by project governance are:

  • Helping you track your investments effectively while improving your return on investments.
  • Acquiring and gaining buy-in for projects.
  • It creates opportunities for you to recognize causes of project failure in advance, thus allowing you to avoid them.
  • Enables effective and clear communication.
  • Allows you to have standardization processes across all your projects, thereby enabling you to compare the performance.
  • Minimizing risks.
  • Enabling you to develop and motivate staff in a structural environment.

How to Create a Good Project Governance Model

If you find yourself in an organization that lacks proper formal structures for you to feed on, you have to come up with your own project governance model. This may sound like a complex task, but it is actually straightforward if you follow the steps below.

  • First, create a document that outlines all the roles and responsibilities of the involved parties.
  • Then ensure that you have financiers for your project.
  • Come up with a project board and ensure that you set time for regular meetings and take and distribute minutes.
  • Set up a risk management process
  • Ensure you have a change management process in place as well.
  • At the end of each phase/ stage of the project, you should check the viability of the project compared to the original goals of the business and make adjustments where necessary.

 What Project Governance Looks Like

When a project has proper governance, you will note that certain activities and qualities become more recognizable.  A working project governance structure will entail some of the key principles discussed below.

  • A defined project management life cycle. This will include having approval points which could be at the end of each phase, where you discuss the viability of the project and get to decide whether to proceed with the work or not.
  • Having clear business objectives. You need to ensure that you offer enough information in the objectives to facilitate the management team to make the right decisions. The decisions arrived at should be properly documented and communicated clearly.
  • Defined roles and responsibilities for everyone working on the project. They should be well experienced and qualified for the roles they play. While conducting project reviews, the team can outsource or seek independent support if you notice a gap or need.
  • Project governance entails a culture of continuous learning. This allows the team room to make improvements constantly and learn in a blame-free environment.
  • Involvement of the stakeholders. The stakeholders should be fully involved in the processes and also trust the team to deliver. As mentioned before, project governance goes hand in hand with the overall governance structures of the organization. Therefore, it is crucial that the projects are conducted in an accurate and effective manner because it will be tied to the financial governance and even the entire organization’s risk management.
  • Project governance structures you settle on should fit seamlessly into the existing organizational processes. It would be best not to create a new financial management process when you already have one in place. You should use what you have and just make a few adjustments to make them suitable for use in a project environment.

When Do You Know You Have A Good Project Governance Structure in Place?

This can be a tricky subject as, in some instances, it can be difficult to tell whether the project governance structures you have in place are effective or not until you see the final results. However, there are some key characteristics that can help you know whether the project governance methods you have settled on are good for your project. Let’s take a look at some of these characteristics.

  • Participation from involved parties. Ensuring that every party involved in the project is on the same page will go a long way to ensure that the project is a success. That is also the only way that good governance can be achieved. The employees/team members need to be involved fully, whether directly or indirectly, through representatives. Participation in project governance should be conducted in an organized and informed manner to be beneficial for everyone.
  • Honesty and transparency. As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. In this case, good governance is founded on implementing the decisions made by enforcement agencies while taking into account the rules and regulations put in place. A good governance structure should ensure that information is freely and openly accessible, especially to those who will be impacted, whether negatively or positively, by the decisions arrived at before they are executed. It would help to ensure that the information is offered clearly and correctly.
  • Collaboration. This advocates for inclusivity. All stakeholders should be made to feel included and that their contribution matters and plays a big role in the success of the project. A good project governance structure should seek to offer all the participants opportunities to contribute to the project.
  • Effectiveness and efficiency. As mentioned above, a project governance structure can be said to be good or bad after examining the end results. Once the end goal and requirements have been met, we can conclude that the governance methods were effective. However, efficiency will only be realized if the team follows all due procedures and regulations put in place.
  • Accountability. A good project governance structure is accountable to all the involved stakeholders. The scope of the accountability levels may differ depending on whether the decisions taken are external or internal to the organization.

Who is involved in Project Governance?

Various parties are involved in project governance, and they all play crucial roles to ensure that the project is a success. Here, we will focus on the key roles that these different parties play in project governance.

  • Project manager. The project manager takes charge of all the planning of the project. They also ensure that decisions are executed and monitor the progress that is made. Generally, they control how the entire project is conducted.  They also facilitate communication between all the other parties involved.
  • The client. This is the person or organization for who owns the project. However, that does not mean that they do nothing towards the success of the project. They approve all the plans and request any necessary changes. They also highlight any issues and concerns they have with the project and make payment once the work is completed. The client is obligated to accept or decline the work at the end of their needs or requirements have not been met.
  • The team. These can either be full-time employees or people who have been outsourced to carry out various activities for the realization and completion of the project. They all need to be experienced and qualified for the roles they will be assigned.
  • A board committee. This could comprise of all the interested stakeholders and representatives of the management team. The financiers of the project are also part of this board. The board is required to have regular and frequent meetings and make decisions that steer the direction of the project. They oversee the whole project from beginning to completion while offering strategy. They work and think together to come up with solutions to issues raised by the manager. They also consider changes requests made on the project and allow them where they deem necessary.
  • Resource manager. Project governance requires someone who will align the available resources with strategic priorities in order to facilitate the completion of the project. That is the work of a resource manager. He/ she helps to manage the pool of resources that have been availed by the financiers. They are also responsible for ensuring that the team is made up of people with capabilities of delivering. They ensure that a particular task is assigned to the right person. Resource managers are constantly on the lookout to ensure that the right resources are allocated to the right needs.
  • The project management office.  These are people that ensure that the whole project is conducted in adherence to the set-out rules and regulations. They standardize the governance processes related to the project. They are responsible for executing and managing the entire project in a predictable ad more controlled manner. They look to improve and increase the success rate of a project being undertaken.


We can say without a doubt that project governance helps you deliver your work in a reliable and sustainable manner. It is also structured in such a way that the organization learns from project experience. This helps the team to avoid making similar mistakes multiple times. As you gain experience while working on various projects, your ability to deliver successfully also keeps increasing and improving.

It is critical that the top management leads by example by showing their support. All levels of the business will follow suit in showing their support, thereby ensuring that the project governance is sustainable. Creating a supportive culture that offers a blame-free environment is also very important when it comes to project governance. It goes a long way to ensure that the project managers and the whole team thrive, thereby enabling them to reach their goals and that of the project.

Remember that all stakeholders need to be fully involved in the governance for it to be a success. The communication lines should be made open, and information should be accessible. For transparency purposes, the information should be passed down in a simple and understandable manner. All due procedures and regulations should be adhered to. When there are proper governance structures in place, you will be able to notice causes of project failure early enough, enabling you to avoid them