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gouvernance projet

What is project governance?

PMO, Project Controls, Project Management
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The definition of project governance

Project governance is the process of defining a framework and rules for participating in the smooth running of a project and is related to corporate governance. Project governance allows a project to be managed and coordinated from the planning stage right through to completion. It is highly recommended as a preliminary task in project management, especially for the most complex projects that require a high level of organisation and attention to detail. Project governance enables the identification of protocols, processes, policies, staff roles and responsibilities, validation processes, regulations and so on. It sets the general direction to be taken and must be aligned with the overall strategy.

The project governance management process involves the following:

  • The organisation’s policy: the nature of the relationships between all internal and external players and the organisation’s internal regulations.
  • The project cycle, which allows it to be structured from planning to closure and identifies the various phases and tasks to be carried out in each of them.
  • Creating a definition of the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and collaborators and their functions at each stage of the various processes.
  • Establishing effective communication processes to centralise data, ensuring that all employees have the same information and can move forward at the same pace.
  • Steering processes to regularly take stock of activities and collect feedback to improve and manage risks with the aim of making the best strategic decisions.
  • Monitoring processes to support all employees in carrying out their tasks and ensure that everyone’s responsibilities are appropriate.
  • Tools, including Gantt charts, dashboards and even project management software like MS-Project that enable the project team to adapt its practices and make it easier to organise and carry out its work.

The definition of good governance according to the United Nations in a PMI report

In a very interesting document called “Governance rules! The principles of effective project governance”, the Project Management Institute (PMI) sheds light on its definition of the “elusive concept” of project governance, mentioning the fact that the term “project governance” has a multitude of meanings and that it is therefore important to examine them.  According to the article, project governance is a formidable weapon in the arsenal of effective project-based organisations. It suggests that one of the key elements is the way in which decision-making rights and responsibilities are distributed and allocated between the project team and senior management. This enables informed decisions to be made and improves business performance.

The PMI also proposes the definition of good governance used by the United Nations, as well as these eight characteristics. The United Nations defines good governance as the decision-making process and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not). Its eight characteristics are:

  • Participatory: participation is a cornerstone of good governance and, as such, must be informed and organised.
  • Consensus-oriented: good governance requires mediation of the different interests.
  • Accountable: Who is accountable to whom varies, depending on whether the decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organisation. In general, an organisation is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions.
  • Transparent: decisions are taken and enforced in a way that respects the rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their application. It also means that sufficient information is provided and that it is supplied in easily understandable forms and media.
  • Responsive: good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Efficient and effective: good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of stakeholders while making the best use of the resources at their disposal.
  • Equitable and inclusive: a society’s well-being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires that all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have the opportunity to improve or maintain their well-being.
  • Follows a rule of law: good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are applied impartially.

While this definition and its characteristics apply to the term governance in general (such as corporate governance, for example), it nevertheless provides a good overview of what project governance needs to be if it is to be effective.

The principles of effective project governance

Seven general principles can be defined in addition to ensure effective project governance

Responsibility for project governance should be assigned to a team with the skills and resources to ensure it runs smoothly throughout.

Encourage team commitment. This is extremely important in project governance. We need to encourage the participation and support of all our staff.

Prioritising governance objectives is also essential to avoid confusion and conflicting objectives.

Design governance at the portfolio, programme and project levels. Coherence and synergy lead to successful adoption and implementation.

Ensure transparency throughout the process, as this fosters a climate of trust, a better understanding of activities, and greater commitment.

Keep in mind the evolutionary aspect of project governance. It may be necessary to adjust or redo certain tasks.

An appropriate driving methodology is essential. The chosen methodology may be agile, waterfall, PERT or SCRUM, etc. You can read our article about the best project planning methodologies if you are still unsure which technique is best for your project.

The benefits of project governance

A project may fail to meet its objectives for many reasons:

  • Lack of clear direction
  • Lack of commitment among staff and stakeholders
  • Lack of skills in the proposed project management methodology
  • Lack of alignment with strategies, etc.

Project governance aims to avoid such problems and to ensure the success of the project by guaranteeing all the stakeholders, resources, deadlines, costs and risks are managed effectively to achieve the set objective. Establishing effective project governance presents a number of challenges in addition to this overall objective, but has these advantages:

  • It improves collaboration and communication between staff and stakeholders
  • It encourages commitment from project team members
  • It facilitates informed decision-making
  • It helps limit the risks associated with cost and schedule overruns

Are you ready to take action? PROPRISM will help you choose the governance you want to adopt, together with your strategic objectives.

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