Dec 16, 2022

What Is Project Governance and Why Do I Need It?

Scott Pistor
Sam Morey

Scott Pistor and Sam Morey

What Is Project Governance and Why Do I Need It?

As organizations navigate an ever-changing competitive landscape driven by rapid innovation, supply chain challenges, and varying ways of working, one thing remains constant: continual demand for new projects and programs to grow the business.

Governance in Action

Remarkably, 35% of these business growth efforts result in failed projects. While failures occur for several reasons, Credera believes strong project governance is a key success factor in our track record of delivering impactful projects for clients.

We define project governance as coordinating and measuring all activities against a defined business objective, scope, budget, and timeline which, when completed, enables strategic initiatives. Here’s what we’ve found it takes to enable effective project governance and avoid common project failures:

  1. Establish and grow trust.

  2. Align on a shared vision.

  3. Create an optimal team.

  4. Communicate openly.

  5. Adapt to the challenge.

Throughout this article, we’ll dive into these five enablers of successful project governance.

1. Establish and Grow Trust

At the start of any project, there is an important period in which trust must be built. The goal during this time is to identify the people with the necessary expertise to lead the project and to strengthen relationships with those key stakeholders. We’ve found success in having early conversations with our clients to understand the impact of the project, set expectations, and clarify assumptions and risks. In successful client engagements, this initial phase grows trust, evolves the working relationship, and establishes the project manager as a valuable partner and thought leader for our client.

2. Align on a Shared Vision

No matter the size of a project, all stakeholders should have a common understanding of the vision for the project, the strategic objectives it supports, and the desired outcomes (i.e., what success looks like and how it will be measured). It is crucial to develop this common understanding at the beginning of the project and reinforce it throughout the lifecycle of the project.

The ability to articulate the project’s vision ensures the team will recognize and communicate when the project is facing a risk or drifting from its purpose. We focus on rapidly deploying foundational project governance to keep projects on track and keep stakeholders aligned on a shared vision to support the strategic objectives and fulfill the desired outcomes of the project. This case study provides a further look into Credera’s project governance capabilities in action.

3. Create an Optimal Team

Without an optimized team structure, a project will struggle to meet its objectives. What does an optimized team look like? Two key factors to consider are the complexity and scope of a project. We prioritize aligning team size and roles with the needs of the client. To advise strategic projects, we recommend pairing a lead strategist with an executive client sponsor to drive the overall project vision and direction. To execute, we recommend a project manager who oversees delivery, planning, and risk and issue management. To support execution, we recommend leveraging a blend of business analysts and in-house technologists at various levels to support the day-to-day work.

How does Credera handle large, complex initiatives, spanning multiple areas of an organization? For these complex business ventures requiring multiple project workstreams, a program management office (PMO) can be formed to mitigate project failure risks and unite workstreams and team members. A PMO serves as a central source of truth for project governance and bridges the gap between the executive steering committee and the functional teams. Having a centralized, dedicated team for project governance enables greater visibility, planning, collaboration, and flexibility across the functional teams. To learn more about the difference between program and project management, check out this Credera blog.

4. Communicate Openly

It is easy to say that communication is the key to success, but doing it well is another story. At Credera, our core values of integrity, excellence, tenacity, humility, and people first guide our actions as we work alongside our clients. At the cross section of those values is trust, in which communicating openly is a bedrock for how we engage with clients as their trusted partners.

We set up teams to succeed through project governance that ensures key information is readily available to determine the project’s next steps. In practice, this means project risks and issues are thoroughly tracked and regularly communicated to best support our client through project challenges. Our robust project governance provides a framework for communicating openly and accurately to best represent status, risks, and assumptions and to make timely decisions to keep the project on track.

5. Adapt to the Challenge

The final factor for effective project governance is flexibility. We often see changes in project strategy or priority come from the top down. As changes arise, projects with effective governance strategies in place are better equipped to manage and adapt to the impact of change across all project workstreams. Understanding how various groups are impacted if strategy or priorities change allows teams to pivot day-to-day work and continue open communication about expectations and progress.

Finding the Best Project & Program Management Approach

Whether your organization struggles to deliver value on large-scale projects or is simply in need of a structured project and program management approach, Credera would love to be part of your project governance journey.

At Credera, we know how to provide the structure, perspective, and guidance to support project delivery and instill trust throughout your organization. Contact us at to learn how we can work together to accomplish your goals.

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