Mastering Project Governance: Key to Success

change management Nov 08, 2023
mastering governance and process to get effective change management

Project governance refers to the management framework in which the project will be “held accountable” to the authority of the organization.

Some people say that governance is the way decisions are made. In reality, it’s more about the way in-project decisions are reviewed and authorized to ensure:

  • They comply with what has been approved, resourced, and funded.
  • They effectively allow the progression of the project plan as approved or as varied from time to time.
  • They conform to scope.
  • They effectively manage change, issues, and risk.
  • They minimize the negative impacts of the organization’s ongoing operations.

In terms of the character or attributes of project governance (much like organizational governance,) it must be:

  • Pragmatic. It must recognize and be customized to satisfy the nature of the project and the nature of the organization in which it “lives.”
  • Logical. It must flow in a manner that is sympathetic to the nature and flow of the project and must be easily understood by the project team and all impacted stakeholders.
  • Respected. The authority bestowed through the project governance structure must be respected by the project team, all impacted stakeholders, and all functional and operational staff.

Project governance must run in parallel and be compatible with (i.e., not conflict with) the organization’s existing governance processes.

Conceptually, it should add value to the organization by helping to optimize the project rather than create new problems.

Why is it Important?

Project governance is important (critical) for a number of reasons, including the following:


The organization has approved a particular set of activities and committed time, resources, and funds to it. This approval has been based on the promise of specified benefits to the organization at the completion of those activities.

The governance structure should ensure that the benefits are at all times still deliverable at the end of the project and that committed time, resources, and funds are not exceeded.

Scope and change

The governance structure ensures that any and all inevitable changes required to deliver the benefits are within scope or outside of it. It has the authority to approve changes or escalate them.


Unforeseen issues will arise during the progress of the project.

These issues may be internal to the project or be collateral impacts on others. Sometimes a satisfactory resolution of these issues cannot be resolved by project players.

The governance structure provides authority to adjudicate the issues or escalate them to the organization’s ultimate authority.


The governance structure ensures that any and all risks impacting the project, or its various stakeholders are suitably managed.

Such management normally entails the development and monitoring of a risk schedule.

Simultaneously, a risk mitigation and contingency strategy need to be developed and managed. The governance structure enables the management and monitoring of project risks and their mitigation as and when required—in order to ensure that the project’s promise is delivered on time and on budget.


The governance structure ensures that all aspects of the project are accountable, initially to the governance structure and then ultimately to the organization’s authority.


The governance structure ensures that key matters (such as scope, issues, changes, risks, etc.) are resolved and adjudicated in a manner that is not compromised by the biases or subjectivity of the people responsible for the matter being considered.

Corporate focus

The governance structure ensures that the well-being, enhancement, protection, and betterment of the organization, the project’s ultimate sponsor, are considered in all project matters.

Project team members, like any other people, sometimes get too close to an activity to be able to impartially or against their own interest promote major changes or even close down that activity.

The governance structure therefore provides a project-informed yet independent body that can fairly, pragmatically, and commercially adjudicate what is in the organization’s best interest.


  1. Review the last five projects undertaken by your organization.
  2. Identify the project governance framework used for each.
  3. Did each fulfill all critical elements of a good framework?
  4. What were the consequences of this on the organization and on their projects?
  5. Contemplate your analysis.
  6. What are the implications on project governance within your organization?


If you have or suspect negative responses to these issues, then your leadership or the leadership of others may be compromised.

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We’re proud to advise that the authors of this piece are Advisory & Mentoring directors.

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