Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Project Governance – Maturity Level III

Project governance is an oversight function that is aligned with the organization’s governance model and that encompasses the project life cycle.  Project governance framework provides the project manager and team with structure, processes, decision-making models and tools for managing the project, while supporting and controlling the project for successful delivery.

                                                                                                - PMBoK v5 (p34)
This is the third post in my series on governance in the project context.  In the first post I introduced my arbitrary, tongue-in-cheek governance maturity level (gml) and in the second post described gml-II Solution, the first level of maturity of project governance.  With this post, we advance to describing gml-III.

Remember from the previous post that minimal project governance is focused on the project solution.  Advanced project governance, in contrast, is focused on project delivery.  Rather than just being concentrated on Executing Process Group (PMBoK v5 section 3.5) activities, gml-III governance covers the entire gamut of process groups:  Initiating, Planning, Monitoring and Control, and Closing.

At gml-II, governance activities were directed at the product deliverables.  At gml-III, in contrast, expect the governance team to examine the project charter, statement of work, status reports, meeting minutes, and all deliverables in the organization’s methodology, all the way through to the project retrospective and closing.  Not only will they be looking to see that the work product was produced, but that the proper template was used, the content conforms to standards, it was distributed properly (both audience and time), and that approval authorities are correct.
While governance processes may be similar to those at gml-II, the tools used at this level are ratcheted up.  Periodic audits with formal auditing checklists, scoring models (i.e., a project that is not conforming to process is higher risk than one that does), and public, structured project reviews are all normal practices.  These audits and reviews are distinctive in that performance is not determined by time, cost or scope;  performance is exclusively measured by conformance to process and proper use of tools by the right people.

At this level, there are also differences from the previous level with the governance team.  All governance is a form of “Check and Balance” to assure credibility.  At gml-II, project governance is within the project delivery methodology, for example, stage gates.  As such, it is contained within the department or division;  it might even be within the PMO.  At gml-III, in contrast, the concern for credibility goes much higher in the organization, thus governance is completely separate from the project delivery organization.  At a pharmaceutical company, for example, governance may report up through the legal department;  at a financial institution, depending on what department the project team is in, governance may report to legal or to the CFO;  in a large (completely projectized) consulting firm that I worked for for many years, the governance team reported directly to the COO.  That is, the project delivery organization existed, with branches, branch managers, PMs, Delivery managers, divisions, VPs, etc.  But governance was completely independent of the project delivery organization.  The project auditors that worked at the branch level did not report to the branch managers, but reported up through their own hierarchy that reached directly to the company president.  This demonstrates that gml-III is the appropriate governance level for the consultancy PM.
My final comments on gml-III are that, because the governance elements are formal and process-ized, the environment is positioned for continuing process improvement.  The project audits will encourage post-project reviews and documented Lessons Learned.  These will, in turn, be fed back as inputs into the project audits, resulting in improvements to the checklists, tools, templates and training.  This virtuous cycle represents the capstone of gml-III maturity.

In my first post in this series, I mentioned that we would explore governance in the project context.  So far, we’ve been exclusively discussing project governance, but with the next post, on gml-IV Alignment, we will step outside the project to see what penultimate governance looks like in a project organization.
When governance is discussed, someone usually bemoans the inefficiency, the overhead, the burden.  Does your organization have too much, too little or just the right amount of governance?

© 2013 Chuck Morton.  All Rights Reserved.

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