PM Professional

What is project governance?

Project governance is the management framework within which business (and therefore project) decisions are made. Correct governance keeps work progressing smoothly, on budget and within deadlines.

To do this consistently, there needs to be a governance framework in place to help oversee project roles, tasks and processes.

Project governance frameworks

Project governance frameworks work on a level above project management frameworks. They dictate not only how project decisions are made, but also how enterprise-level- decisions are made.

They tell you what activities need to be done and by whom. They also tell you what activities the business does, and who’s responsible.

Project governance therefore covers all these aspects:

  • Processes
  • Procedures
  • Roles
  • Responsibilities
  • Policies
  • Regulations

Key aspects of project governance

In essence, every project governance framework is comprised of these 3 things:


Investing in an effective and knowledgeable project manager capable of driving project success is key to any project. Before that however, business managers need to understand their current activities.

They need to know what they do. But, more importantly, they need to know how they go about achieving goals or developing products.

People drive businesses. Without employees, businesses would be no more than a name. To effectively implement project governance framework, managers need to understand how those that work under them operate.

Using this information, project governance can establish the goals each project manager should achieve. These goals need to be clear, reachable and sustainable. These goals also vary from industry to industry, business to business, and project to project according to the nature and roles of the people working on them.


To work effectively, business structure and environment must support the project environment. Management must be willing to invest the time necessary and create a business environment that supports project managers and gives them something to work by and carry forward. The structure of project governance never applies to just the immediate project team, but the business as a whole.


Understanding people is almost as understanding processes. No matter how many goals are set, no business will succeed without clear and consistent information sharing.

Project governance roles

There are several roles within project governance, including:

Project Owner

This is the client-facing business representative. They’re usually don’t function in a project management role since they tend to hold the project manager to account.

Key stakeholders & Project Board

These make up a Project Board. They’re either investors, customers or suppliers. Limit the number of key stakeholders is important to development efficiency. While their input is important to the overall quality of development and projects, project owners can generally make all necessary decisions without their approval.

Advisory group

This too is formed of stakeholders but functions more like a forum than a decision-making entity and only serves to advise the project board to keep projects moving along efficiently.

Governance models

The chosen governance model must complement the way the business works and the mindset of the people in it. That’s why managers need to consider the level of rigour to employ. When project governance is too stringent, it can annoy stakeholders. When the opposite is true, and governance is too relaxed, there can be a lack of stakeholder engagement.

Look at your typical project’s scopes, deadlines, complexity and risks to measure the required level of protocol and governance. With this, managers can get a rough idea of those key elements required for project governance.

Keep in mind that the opinions, personalities and nature of those working in the project development group should also dictate how the governance framework is employed.

Models generally follow this structure:

  • Portfolio Board – Approves the release of funds
  • Project Board – Gives approval for key documents
  • Project Manager – Handles day-to-day decisions that do not impact the business case
  • Project team – Deliver the project as per the vision set out for them. With a robust project governance model in place to aid development, communication and decision-making.