Friday, April 10, 2009

Project Management Governance: Notes to Self

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The term Project Management Governance* is used in industry, especially in the information technology (IT) sector, to describe the guidelines to be followed for successful project delivery. It is a guide on ‘what to do’. It doesn’t talk about ‘how to do’. This difference is a key in understanding governance and its implementation, and hence, very important.

At a high level, Project Management Governance can be divided into four areas namely #1) Project Management Effectiveness and Efficiency #2) Disclosure and Reporting #3) Portfolio direction and #4) Project Sponsorship.

The suggested areas that can be covered under each one of the primary heading is given below.

Project Management Effectiveness and Efficiency
  • Un Ambiguous definition of Project Success criteria and its use in decision making
  • Sufficiency of organizations project management practices
  • Compliance with the organization’s project management practices.
  • Unambiguous definition of project management roles
  • Competency and capability of managers chosen to deliver project successfully.
  • Appropriate usage of change and risk management practices
  • Planning and correct usage of contingencies
  • Ability of staffing team to provide resources as needed by Managers

Disclosure and reporting
  • Reporting to senior management and client
  • Usage of relevant metrics for reporting.
  • Use Quantifiable escalation thresholds.
  • Ensure Quality of Information reported is not compromised.
Portfolio direction
  • Alignment of project portfolio with key business objectives.
  • Usage of good financial practices to prevent revenue leakages.
  • Risk and Issue Management at a portfolio level
Project sponsorship
  • Presence of competent sponsors
  • Quality of communication with sponsors
  • Effectiveness and efficiency of sponsors
  • Alignment of interests of all key stake holders with project success
While it may look areas like 'portfolio direction' and 'project sponsorship' are not relevant to an IT services company, it has to be noted that Projects running in the organization can be looked at as an portfolio and can be linked to the business goals of the division/organization. Hence Portfolio direction is very important area and very relevant too. Relationship with clients and other stake holders and the resulting human dynamics are managed through activities under “Project Sponsorship”. Hence it is also an important area.

Project Management Governance is an active rather than just a controlling role. It doesn’t stop with defining ‘what to do’. ‘How to do’ should be closely aligned with the guidelines set as per the Project management governance principles.
If the processes that are defined to enforce the project management governance principles aren’t sound enough, an organization may still see projects fail irrespective of having the governance guidelines in place. That is why project management governance is only the starting point in ensuring project success and not the end.
*Going by PMIs definition of project and project management (given below), we will use the term project management governance instead of project governance throughout this post.
#1. A Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project has a fixed start date and end date.
#2 Project Management is defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.

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