How to Prepare Actionable Plans for Project Governance

The "project governance plan" is the primary process deliverable produced as part of the governance phase of the project management process. Because of it's intended purpose, the governance plan is certainly a high priority deliverable, essential to optimized project execution.  In order to ensure that every plan is fully relevant and realistic (considering project needs and capabilities), it's important to follow simple, but standardized production steps.  Read on for more.

The primary objective of the documented governance plan is to specify and approve actionable procedures as needed to manage and administer a given project. An effective governance plan is prepared using both procedural and documentation templates, providing consistent steps and tools for production and processing.  The project "governance plan" serves four (4) key goals within the project management process:

  • To promote consistency, productivity and shared stakeholder expectations.
  • To produce quality deliverables using pre-defined practices.
  • To empower stakeholders with flexible practices, designed to produce quality deliverables.
  • To establish baselines for procedural reviews and governance "performance" evaluations.

Governance is the Key to Management Success

Project governance is made up of the practices, steps, strategies and decisions used to direct project execution. While projects are executed at a functional level (to produce expected business or technical outcomes), they are also executed at a "process" level. To achieve both elements, governance activities must incorporate at least (10) key "procedural" elements: issues management, change management, resource management, communication management, status reporting, meeting management, risk management, quality control, procurement and project closure.

Project governance is a “people and purpose” driven process. Projects are governed by people, with delegated authority and responsibility to carry out specific steps and make related decisions in accordance with business needs and established standards. As part of "cost effective" management practices, governance scope must be adapted and optimized to suit the needs of individual projects.

Project size and scope determines governance size and scope. Smaller, less complex projects will likely require “less” governance than other projects of a larger scope and greater complexity. These variations are the driving force behind the concept of project fast tracking. As part of the fast track management process, governance practices must be crafted and applied in a manner reflective of project needs and surrounding constraints.

It’s the Deliverables that Make Governance Happen

The "Governance Plan" is the primary deliverable of the governance process, providing a roadmap for how a given project is to be managed. These plans should be standardized to save time, but also readily adaptable to the needs of the project at hand. Once the plan is produced, it becomes the authoritative “go-to” guide for running the subject project. As such, "plan" content must answer the following questions:

  • What are the key governance goals and objectives for the current project?
  • What are the expected governance results and anticipated benefits?
  • Who are the governance stakeholders and what are their respective roles and responsibilities?
  • What are the established governance procedures to be followed and used (considering all the various governance practices listed above)?
  • Why is each procedure necessary and how will each contribute to project success?
  • How will the governance plan be maintained and updated as the project proceeds?

In order to meet these requirements, governance plan deliverables must be produced using standardized formats - to save time and provide an appropriate framework for "plan" production (while also allowing sufficient flexibility to meet varying project needs). As such, standardized plan formats should be made a integral part of any and all adopted project management practices.

Tips and Techniques for Governance Plan Production

  1. Be Nimble and Flexible. Governance plan formats must be sufficiently flexible to account for varying project sizes (i.e. smaller, less complex projects may not require the same extensive governance planning as large, complex projects.)
  2. Ensure Clean and Concise Consistency. Governance plan formats must provide a clean, concise layout to ensure that all key governance variables are presented, including resource management, project communication, project administration, procurement, financial management, and related matters.
  3. Explain and Justify. Governance plan contents must specify planned procedures and provide explanatory justifications for each in terms of inclusions and exclusions.
  4. Accept and Approve. Governance plan formats must provide the means to obtain and record related approvals, ensuring appropriate stakeholder acceptance and buy-in.

Stick to "Define, Align and Approve" for Actionable Results

The “governance planning” deliverable should be produced according to the "define-align-approve" management technique, designed to ensure actionable content, alignment with needs and capabilities and tangible stakeholder approval. Furthermore, the governance plan workflow should be executed in standardized phases, designed to ensure that all key planning, preparation, production and processing needs are addressed.

And Here's More on Project Governance

Project Change Management: Minimize Risks. Maximize Rewards.

Considering the effort that it takes to gather requirements, assemble a team, secure approvals, and create a working schedule, sudden and unexpected "changes to plan" are not always wise - and certainly not always welcome. There are times when change is a mistake, and times when change is essential.  No matter which side any given change may be on, change is a reality that must be faced and controlled.  Read More

Fundamentals of High Quality Project Risk Management

High quality project risk management relies on information, common sense, experience -- and to a certain degree -- gut instinct and intuition. Risks are threats to project success. Risks that are both possible and probable must be identified and analyzed  to fully understand what can happen, what is likely to happen, and if the worst should occur, what would be the result?  This is the essence and purpose of "project risk management".  Read More

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Featured Management Topic: Project Fast Tracking

Strategic fast tracking is a streamlined project management process, used to level the playing field when "project problems" get in the way of on-time success. Our informative "fast tracking" article series explains more:

Part 1: What is Strategic Fast Tracking?

Part 2: Evaluating Projects for Fast-Track-Ability

Part 3: Pinpointing Project Priorities

Get an illustrated view of the fast tracking process in the "Step-by-Step to a Fast Tracked Project" infographic.

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