What is program & project governance?

The simplest definition of project governance is that it is the framework for effective project decision making. The same holds true for portfolio or program governance. The framework comprises:

  • The structure composed of the governance decision-making committees and roles;
  • The people that populate the governance structure;
  • The information that informs the decision makers.

A good program or project governance framework has these components working together to ensure business investments (and this is what programs and projects are) deliver optimum outcomes.


Why is good program & project governance so important?Good program and project governance is about effective decision making. It’s the difference between focussing on building an asset and focusing on achieving an outcome, realising benefits and delivering value for money.This is achieved by taking a business focused approach to decision making. It means ensuring business ownership of programs and projects, clarity of decision making and developing a quality, but not necessarily large, business case.

Ross Garland + Associates are experienced in the governance all kinds of programs and projects, in all types of organisations. Our project governance frameworks provide the foundation for successful programs and projects.

Principles of effective program and project governanceThe following are just some of the core principles that Ross Garland + Associates follow in the design of governance frameworks. Bear in mind though that every situation is different and the way these principles are applied can vary significantly.

  • Treat business as usual differently to change.

    Projects (change) require their own governance structure. The organisation structure is not designed to deliver change.

  • Ensure a single point of accountability.

    This ensures clarity of decision making and empowers the accountable person.

  • Service outcome ownership determines project ownership.

    This places business interests at the heart of project delivery.

  • Separate organisational governance and project governance.

    This principle speeds up decision making since the project decision path does not follow the organisational line of command.

  • Ensure separation of stakeholder management and project decision making activities.

    This prevents decision making forums becoming clogged with stakeholders, resulting in laboured decision making.

  • Develop and maintain the business case.

    The business case is the key governance document.

  • Ensure clarity of decision making responsibilities.

    All stakeholders should be clear who makes what decisions and why.