Project governance generally refers to all rules and regulations which must be adhered to for the successful completion of a project irrespective of the type of project. Information Technology (IT) project governance, therefore, entails rules and regulations which are followed or observed by the IT project managers and teams towards the successful completion of projects. In information technology sectors, project management is commonly used to refer to all the procedures, rules, and project control regulations that should be followed to ensure that an IT project comes to a successful end (Huemann, 2007).
Project governance is considered to be among the pillars of corporate responsibilities which must be observed and governed in a very serious way to ensure the success of projects. New information technology systems are depended on by many companies for the delivery of quality goods and services and also as a major factor in driving down the operational costs in a company. The development of new systems especially in IT may mean the whole difference in a competitive field. When a successful project is implemented, an organization benefits widely depending on the expectations of the approved projects. The failure of a project on the other hand means extra cost and time for a company which is a big blow to the competitive position (Gwynne, 2008).
Objectives of Project Governance
Project management is not detachable from project governance. Project management may be viewed as a technical guideline that is expected to deliver the final outcome while project governance gives the rules to be used in the management and execution of a project. This means that project governance is wider and stretches far than project management to include the following objectives;
- Ensuring that resources are used in the most economical way towards the completion of a project.
- Ensuring that costs are well controlled.
- Ensuring that projects undertaken are coherent with the organizational objectives
- Ensuring that the projects undertaken meet the real business value
It is important that project governance be taken as an organization’s broad matter since most of the projects especially those in IT affect an organization’s competitiveness, finances, and operations. This means that every project should be governed with full knowledge of the organization’s strategic planning arm and all the risk management teams. This ensures that projects undertaken or planned for are well thought of and that the right decisions are made to ensure overall success (Lloyd, 2008).
Responsibilities of Project Governance Board
Several responsibilities are placed on the project’s governance board. The board of governors in charge of projects should ensure that the following responsibilities are well taken care of. First, the governance team is expected to initiate all projects that are deemed relevant by the organization. In addition to this, the governance team also manages the portfolios for different projects and also ensures that any nonperforming projects are stopped. Second, the team provides at least one member to join the board of the company as a representative of the projects team. The person, therefore, represents the projects team on the board to ensure that all projects related suggestions or complaints reach the body for further action.
The project governance team is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is accountability at all points of project management. All plans and paths pertaining to the projects should be well analyzed and tested. This helps in ensuring that the critical success factors regarding any specific project are observed. In addition, this team is expected to go through all project proposals that are forwarded to ensure that they have a business value. This means that all proposed projects should have a business value that can be audited independently to ensure that the project is fully justified.
The project governance team should also take as part of their responsibility to manage or monitor all information technology undertakings as part and parcel of the portfolio. They should therefore be able and ready to implement a well-defined risk management plan which should relieve the organization of the liabilities that are accruable through improper project implementation (Sacristán, 2009).
Lastly, project governance involves a section of the organization which informs the board of any important information regarding the success of projects or failure chances as the case may be. This means that the team plays a very pivotal role in noticing any activities that tend to move the critical success factors astray. In such a case, the team also advises the board of the corrective action that should be taken to ensure that the critical success factors or facts are brought back on track.
Principles of Project Governance
Information Technology Governance is not limited to IT specialists but extends through different levels of management. Several principles make up an effective project governance process. One of the most important principles is that project governance should be directed by very clear expectations. In this regard, the process should be governed by clear values and strong communication to enhance the coordination and monitoring of the current processes. The governance should also have very clear or explicit standards and policies to guide the project development cycle. When all this is maintained, fast and effective progress becomes attainable throughout the project development process.
The second project governance principle is a continuous improvement as well as the capacity to have an independent and uninterrupted review process. This helps in ensuring that the progress is well-reviewed or evaluated against the expected results and any slippage from the target corrected internally. The third project governance principle is embracing proactive modifications or changes in the management and coordination of the project. This helps in ensuring that the project progress is not affected by the change in the governance team since it embraces proactive engagement and flexibility (Berg, 2006).
The third project governance principle is responsible and explicit maintenance of the business operations. This involves ensuring that a competent organizational structure within the project governance team is well maintained to enhance the smooth flow of business operations. In addition, it is imperative to maintain an orderly process as well as effective management of the project assets. Under this principle, the project governance team is expected to maintain and effectively use the available technology to enhance the effectiveness of project processes. Failure to embrace more recent and advanced technologies by the governance team may lead to delays and unnecessary costs which may deny an organization its opportunity to become competitive (Rose, 2007).
Accuracy and strictly timely project updates are the last project governance principle. Timely disclosure of project updates ensures that all people involved in the development of the project as a whole are conversant with the progress, changes, and modifications regarding the process. This eliminates the chances of missing out on the main point of concentration by any of the members. In addition, this helps the senior management to estimate the time required to complete a project and hence facilitating the decision-making process (Gwynne, 2008).
Project Governance Methodology and the Role of the Executives
It is important to select or come up with a good management methodology that suits the needs of an organization’s projects. For instance, the most common projects management methodology is Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE). A good projects management methodology should agree with the existing projects governance principles. A good methodology should assist project governance in the following ways;
- By giving or offering an organized project development cycle from the beginning to the end.
- The method should make project governance easier by providing constant progress reports.
- By providing the governance team with well-structured and flexible points that are crucial to making decisions.
- By providing well-defined communication channels that can be depended on for successful implementation of the project.
An executive sponsor provides a link between project governance and corporate governance. This means that they represent the projects segment on the board. They are a great resource to the project manager through their constant updates and progress reports. Project governance is considered a part and parcel of corporate governance in many organizations. Project governance is a subset of the bigger corporate governance segment of any organization which is responsible for overseeing directions, financing, and implementation of projects (D’Arelli, 2008).
Information Technology (IT) Project Governance
Project governance in information technology projects ensures that clear responsibilities and job outlines are given to all members of the group to ensure a smooth flow of information and responsibilities. This exercise promotes effective project execution and evaluation. For a company that constantly engages in IT projects, governance plays a very vital role in ensuring success and continuous improvement (Bielski, 2008).
Project governance efficiency is a reflection of an information technology project’s efficiency and success. This unit provides an organization with the ability to make the right decisions and enhance work responsibilities. This is ensured by the fact that all decisions that are related to the specific information technology project are well thought of before any action is taken. Usually, governance in information technology varies from one organization to the other depending on the culture and organizational structure. The governance systems also depend on the risks involved as well as the extent that the project is expected to cover.
Large projects usually have structures of governance at different levels while smaller projects are managed at a single level depending on the structure of an organization. Usually, a projects office is always available which communicates constantly with a projects committee on the progress of a project and any support required. The committee usually reports to the project managers who are the overall executives in IT projects. After careful compilation of project reports, the project managers report the findings, progress, and any difficulties being encountered to the overall executive managers who give the way forward for the project (Bielski, 2008).
Many organizations today depend on information technology projects to ensure growth, improvement in customer care as well as in quality. This shows how important information technology projects are important to an organization. IT project governance involves several important aspects such as performance progress evaluation, resource distribution, risk factor evaluation as well as all compliance issues related to the project.
IT Project governance principles cover a wide range and can simply be referred to as the principles through which information technology in an organization is directed and controlled. According to Bielski (2008), governance is concerned with oversight and beneficial influence on the performance of the managers who are responsible for the work or project. A broader description of information technology governance is defined as the framework for the leadership, organizational structures, standards, and compliance to the recommended standards. This form of compliance ensures that an organization’s information support is effective to enhance the achievement of its strategies and objectives.
Enhancing Success in Project Governance
The project management office (PMO) in an organization has a very big role to play in ensuring the success of any project in an organization. The office also provides a very vital role in ensuring that there is effective project governance, especially in information technology-related assignments. With the current rise in costs of operations in many industries especially in the wake of the global financial crises, it is very important to have effective governance in the management of projects (Gwynne, 2008).
Sourcing for high skilled project managers is one of the first steps that must be ensured by any organization that has a quest to realize success in its projects. When a strong team is sourced, project governance has the chance to go to great heights since the team becomes focused without any member of the team dragging others behind. When great ideas meet on the table, the overall result is big projects that end successfully. However, it is important to realize that project success goes above establishing a governance structure. Project success also involves establishing the correct management practices which would facilitate the right thinking and execution of the relevant ideas.
This, therefore, means that efficiency also extends beyond the project governance quotas to the other related departments. Several benchmarks define a successful and a failed project. The first benchmark is the leadership style that is used by the project governance team. In addition, corporate sponsorship determines the failure or the success of a project. When the leadership is dedicated to providing a unique and robust project governance team, success is more likely to be observed.
This shows the critical role that is played by the executive management towards the successful completion of projects in an organization. However, leadership commitment may not be enough to ensure the success of all projects. It is important to encourage commitment from all people involved and if possible have a commitment as part of the organization’s culture. When high-level commitment becomes part of an organization, coordination becomes very easy a situation that eases the governance team’s work of coordination (Gwynne, 2008).
Setting achievable and appropriate expectations is another step towards attaining success. The alignment of IT objectives to the organization’s strategic goals is not enough to guarantee success to an organization in terms of project objectives. Though it is an important part of the same, project governance should be well supported to enhance that such objectives are achieved. When a project governance team sets the right objectives the chances of achieving success become high especially in the IT field where expectations may be very diverse due to the dynamic nature of projects. A good project governance model is very essential in ensuring that any complexities that may be present in the development of a particular project are eliminated.
Setting the correct expectations should be accompanied by making the right choice in terms of the size of the project governance model to be adopted. A good model helps in establishing the most appropriate structures and modes of operation which aids in enhancing accountability and addition of value to the overall project (Crandall, 2006). One of the ways of enhancing project governance is establishing areas in the organization that is doing poorly. In such areas, the change in project governance can have the biggest impact which means that if a model is appropriate, the changes will occur instantly and will easily be appreciated. When a poorly doing project is rejuvenated by a well-structured project governance team, all the other project teams will be ready to embrace the new governance structure hence enhancing overall organizational success.
Challenges Facing Project Governance
One of the challenges facing projects governance today is the fast evolution of technology. During the formulation of a project, there are usually some governance rules and procedures which are set before a project commences. These rules work very well in many cases during the project initiation stages. However, as the project execution proceeds, coming technologies play a very vital role which may lead to nullification of the initial governance rules placed to govern the project. It is important therefore to ensure that systems and procedures are also put in place to guide project development in the wake of the rise of new technologies. To ensure that projects deliver the expected results on time and in the correct way, it is very important to maintain some ground governance procedures to govern the entire project execution.
Project governance ensures that rules and regulations which must be followed to ensure successful completion of a project are adhered to. This is one of the most important responsibilities in an organization since it holds the future and the success of an organization. When projects come to a successful end, a company is able to move forward in terms of customer experience, quality control, and cost management.
Project governance strives to ensure that projects are executed according to the laid down rules and procedures. This helps in speeding up project completion time as well as avoiding ambiguities in the issue of instructions. This helps to improve the business value of a project and hence increased profitability for an organization. The project governance board has the responsibility of ensuring that the highest level of accountability is maintained. The board is also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the executive management is continuously and accurately informed of project progress.
Project governance strives to ensure that there is continuous improvement in the management of projects. This is very important in enhancing operations and enhancing the business value of a project. Good governance principles such as the setting of achievable goals help in ensuring that projects, as well as corporate objectives, are met in the best way possible. To enhance this, it is important to choose the right governance methodology and involve the executive management in all steps during project execution.
Project governance in Information Technology (IT) projects is very important especially when an in-house project is being developed. These types of projects sometimes require very intricate steps which must be followed to ensure that a project is completed successfully. This explains why IT project governance should be handled with more care compared to other forms of projects. To ensure the success of any project, governance should be strengthened since it acts as the backbone of any project.
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