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Project Governance – Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

Andy Richter
27th June
Comments Off on Project Governance – Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

All projects have some degree of uncertainty and risk.  Despite our best attempts to initiate projects carefully and engage the most talented resources to deliver the work, business priorities may change and risk may be introduced.  When changes occur, the project team will need direction and/or decisions from leadership and a governing body.  If there is any ambiguity over who is accountable for decisions or who has the right to make them, the project may stall.   As a result ValuD recommends a multi-party governance model for every project to ensure sustained involvement from executive sponsors and stakeholders from both the client and the implementation partner.

Project governance refers to “the framework, functions, and processes that guide project management” (according to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition.[i]  This oversight function is aligned with the organization’s leadership structure and decision-making processes.   The governance encompasses the entire project life cycle and defines structured roles, responsibilities and accountabilities within the project. The benefits include effective oversight and improved control, integration, and decision making.  While there is no one framework that is effective in all organizations, ValuD recommends that the model includes the following components:

  • Definitive Leadership Accountabilities and Responsibilities
  • Alignment and Stakeholder Engagement
  • Risk and Issue Management
  • Assurance: Monitoring and Controlling Processes

For the purpose of this blog we will focus on the first, and arguably most important component – Leadership.  We will take a deeper dive into specific roles and responsibilities of the Project Sponsor, Steering Committee and the Project Manager.

Project Sponsor
A Project Sponsor provides strategic direction and oversight to ensure cohesion between all project stakeholders. This key client role should have direct contact with the partner’s executive sponsor.

  • Champions the project at a senior level within the organization
  • Approves the business case and project charter
  • Owns the outcome throughout the lifespan of the program
  • Prioritizes the project within the organization – ensuring the right projects are initiated at the right time

Steering Committee
A steering committee provides operational direction.  This supervisory board is accountable for managing and addressing business issues, monitoring risk, quality, and project timelines.  The committee should include key individuals from the client and implementation partner and should meet on a routine basis for updates from the project managers – preferably monthly.

  • Determines how project goals are measured
  • Approves the Project Management Plans
  • Ensures project aligns with charter
  • Determines escalation point for any project deviations
  • Applies best practices and captures lessons learned
  • Manages interdependencies (projects, resources, etc.)

Project Manager
A project manager provides tactical direction and executes the project in accordance with the objectives set by the project sponsor, steering committee, and project management office.  Both the client and implementation partner provide a professional project manager in this capacity.  PM’s are present so that projects are successfully completed.

  • Executes in accordance with the established governance plan
  • Monitors and reports on the project milestones
  • Executes the Communication Plan
  • Manages project stakeholders based on established scope

When effectively established and sustained throughout the project – this leadership structure is the first cornerstone installed for building out the project governance model.  Do you need assistance in setting up your multi-party governance model?  Contact us at for more information.

[i]  Project Management Institute, 2017, p. 44

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