Governing projects, programs, change initiatives and portfolios

Ingredients for success in projects, programs and change initiatives – choose carefully,  give clear direction, watch progress and be part of the change.

Our approach to governance

Governing projects, programs, change initiatives and portfolios is an area of much confusion and discussion.

Core Consulting Group (CCG) has a very clear view of governance and involves all the significant ‘should we?’ decisions relating to projects. Examples include:

  • Should we spend effort investigating the viability of a project?
  • Should we fund and execute the project?
  • Should we go with this (particular) plan?
  • Should we change the project from what was agreed?
  • The project solution is ready – should we implement it?
  • Are we happy with the outcomes of the project, or should we close it down?

Governance exists within a project and between projects, especially where there is an alignment of projects to produce a strategic outcome. The key aspect is that the right people are making the necessary decisions at the right time.

The role of the Project Management Office (PMO)

A PMO can exist at the Project level, the Program or major Change Initiative level or at the Enterprise or Portfolio level.  The role of the PMO will differ dramatically from organisation to organisation depending on it’s charter.  A common theme however is that a PMO exists to assist the Project or Program Manager to facilitate governance (decision making) through the provision of accurate, up to date information and analysis relating to the project.

Portfolio governance

At a portfolio level, there is a degree of decision making about whether the project is needed and viable. However, there is also decision making about a project’s merit, relative to other projects and relative to the capacity (financial and people) of the organisation to deliver it. Portfolio governance works in conjunction with project and program governance and often includes the existence of an Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO).

Project governance

Project governance, which ties in with other areas of governance, is best served by a consistent and clear model such as that promoted by PRINCE2. A project board – sometimes referred to as a project control group – that is chaired by the executive sponsor and includes senior user and supplier (not to be confused with vendor) representatives is a proven well-founded model. The project manager reports into the project board but is not a key decision maker. Instead, their role is to inform and recommend.

Program and major Change Initiative governance

Program governance, major change initiative governance and project governance are closely related. The key difference is the strategic focus of program and change initiative governance with the inclusion of the change and adoption aspects of delivery beyond projects. Program and change initiative management involves managing dependencies between projects and, by their nature, multiple project managers.  Governance follows a similar model to projects, with decision making done by the Sponsor, key user representatives and key suppliers.

Building client capability

The work we do for clients typically involves us reviewing their current practice and giving advice for improvement. We often provide governance training using our hypothetical scenarios, and we also offer coaching advice.

Case studies

Further reading

White papers & articles

Need help with project governance?

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