Project Governance

This blog on Project Governance follows on from my blogs on Portfolio Management. Portfolio Management is the selection and control of all of the projects within an organisation. I’ve also recently talked about projectification, and how a Project Management Office (PMO) can help coordinate the benefits of those many projects. I’ve also clearly defined Projects, Programmes, and Portfolios to set those in context of the work that the PMO performs.

What is Project Governance?

Project Governance is ‘The act of Governing Projects’ within an organisation. How Projects are directed and controlled. According the the Association for Project Management (APM):

……. is the framework of authority and accountability that defines and controls the outputs, outcomes, and benefits from projects, programmes and portfolios. The mechanism whereby the investing organisation exerts financial and technical control over the deployment of the work, and realisation of value.

Project Governance has 4 main duties:

  • Sets Strategic Direction: Ensures that the organisations strategy is clear and agreed.
  • Ensures that Projects Align with the Organisational Strategy: Selects the portfolio of projects to achieve the strategic aim.
  • Checks that Projects Delivers Business Value: Checking that projects remain on track to deliver their promised objectives.
  • Make Decisions at Regular Stage-Gate Reviews: Provide formal review points where decisions are made to grant or renew authority for the project to continue.

At a lower level, Governance looks after the:

  • Rules
  • Procedures/Procedures
  • Norms
  • Relationships
  • Systems and
  • Processes

that projects use. It is ‘governance for all project related activities’.

Why is it Important?

Project Governance provides:

  • Clarity of the organisations strategic aim
  • Ensures that the correct projects are approved
  • Provides consistent gateway decisions
  • Defines clear roles and responsibilities

Without these things the organisation will not achieve it’s aims. Projects may contradict each other. Projects may get wrongly approved, or incorrectly cancelled. There will be a constant demand for more and more scarce resources.

Roles within Project Governance

The senior managers involved with Governance will include the:

  • Project Managers up to their limit of authority
  • The Project Sponsor or Project Champion
  • Programme and Portfolio Managers
  • The Project Board or Project Steering Committee
  • ‘C’ suite Executives
  • The PMO

These  managers need to agree to the governance rules, policies and procedures. They need to carry these out fairly and firmly as required in the organisation.


Governance of Projects is vital. Without suitable governance chaos will follow.

It should be tailored to each project. Apply governance with a light touch. But apply Project Governance rigorously and consistently.

Posted On: 15th February 2021

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