Organisations that are project based can use good project governance to address how decisions are made and who is accountable for making the decisions. However, if project governance is poor the risk of the project failing increases. As well as failure of the project, sight of objectives can be lost resulting in a loss of benefits for the stakeholders. Project governance can be used for the management of both individual and large business level projects through control, planning and communication.
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The term “Project Governance” doesn’t have a single definition as the word “Governance” has several different uses, this results in the term having multiple meanings. Governing is defined as “action, manner of fact governing” and “the function or power of governing” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Govern, however, is defined as “rule with authority, conduct the policy, actions and affairs of a state, subject.” Without the word Governance being defined the term “Project Governance” can be interpreted in many ways, see Appendix 1.
A process by which decisions are made and implemented, or not, is how The United Nations describes “good governance”. The United Nations also suggests that good governance is made up of eight characteristics;
- Consensus Orientated
- Effective and efficient
- Equitable and inclusive
Follows a rule of law
Effective and Efficient
Equitable and Inclusive
Follows a rule of law
For the purpose of this assignment I will focus on the first and most fundamental component of the Project Governance Framework Roles and responsibilities. I will also delve further into the specific roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager, Project Sponsor and Steering Committee.
Uncertainty and risk are present in all projects. This can be down to the possibility of the resources not being utilised to the best that they can be resulting in a shift in business priorities and risk being introduced. When this happens leadership or a governing body is needed to make decisions and point the project team in the right direction. If roles and responsibilities are not defined within the project team ambiguity over who is the ‘decision maker’ may cause the project to stall. To avoid this, it is recommended that project teams have a multi-party governance framework to ensure involvement from stakeholders and executive sponsors is sustained.
Governance of projects refers to “the framework, functions, and processes that guide project management.” (PMBOK, 2017) The organizational structure of leadership and process of decision making is essential for this oversight function. Roles, responsibilities, and accountability is all outlined throughout the lifecycle of the project and defined through the governance of a project. Benefits of establishing this framework is that there is improved control, integrity, and decision making with less oversights being made. There isn’t one framework that works across the board for all organisations in order to have an effective framework it is recommended that the following components should be included within each adapted model:
- Clear outline of responsibilities, roles and accountability
- Collaboration and engagement with stakeholders
- Effective management of risk and issues
- Monitoring and controlling of processes
Providing direction, a Project Manager executes the project with conformity of the requirements set by not only the stakeholders but the Steering Committee and the Project Sponsor as well. Project managers play on important role within a project and are present to ensure the project is completed.
- Executes in accordance with the projects governance plan that is in place
- Monitors and ensures all milestones are met
- Sets up a communication plan to ensure everyone is kept up to date
- Manages stakeholders based on the scope of the project
Strategically ensuring direction and union between stakeholders, Project Sponsors have the role of keeping direct contact with the partners executive sponsor.
- Has a senior level role within the organisation
- Approves the project charter and business case
- Throughout the projects lifecycle the Project Sponsor owns the outcome
- Ensures the right projects are initiated at the right times
Providing operational direction this supervisory board is responsible for the managing and addressing of business issues as well as monitoring the risk, quality and timeline of the project throughout the cycle. The Steering Committee should be comprised of a mixture of clients and partners. To ensure the committee is kept up to date and being utilised as a key role, regular communication and facilitated workshops should be held on a regular basis with the project manager.
- Decides on how goals are measured
- Approves the projects plans and scope changes
- Ensures alignment between the charter and the project
- Determines when and how deviations from the project or scope should be escalated
- Applies lessons learned and best practice to the project
- Manages resources and other interdependencies
When utilised effectively and continuously through-out the projects lifecycle this structure is essential for starting the base of a project governance framework.
Recently I moved jobs and although I have stayed within the jewellery retail industry there are clear differences between hierarchical structures. H.Samuel has a more complex structure in comparison to the Watches of Switzerland Group. There are several levels of management within both organisations, however, the Watches of Switzerland Group has a more Flatarchy approach.
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A company or organisation that has a Flatarchy approach tends to have a smaller number of employees and subsequently the communication between the store staff and the CEO is a lot more prominent. Governed by self-management the Watches of Switzerland Group pride themselves on giving stores a wider permission authority and directly involving them on the decision making for each store. Development of staff’s product knowledge is determined by each individual person resulting in a more flexible structure than in a Functional organisation.
In comparison H.Samuel adhere to a Functional approach to the structure. This approach is beneficial to larger and more complex organisations. Although beneficial a Functional approach has many down sides. Due more middle management the line of communication between store staff and the CEO is abolished resulting in an ‘every store is the same’ approach to the lower levels of the organisational structure. Although some things may work in one store they may not in another for example there is a big difference in stock demand for a store within a city than that of a store within a town.
To conclude I feel that the Governance of roles and responsibilities in the Watches of Switzerland Groups approach to structure is far superior to that of H.Samuel. This is due to the direct line of communication and Flatarchy approach to the structure and treating each store as its own little business within the company rather than putting an umbrella over all stores.
- Murray, J. (1978). The Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- UNESCAP (2008). What is good governance?
- Müller, R. (2009). Project governance. London: Gower.
- Klakegg, O. J., Williams, T., Magnussen, Ol.M., & Glasspool, H. (2008). Governance frameworks for public project development and estimation. Project Management Journal, 39, S27–S42.
- Bekker, M. C., & Steyn, H. (2007, September). Defining project governance for large capital projects. AFRICON 2007, Windhoek, South Africa.
- Association for Project Management (2004). Directing change: A guide to governance of project management. High Wycombe, UK, Association for Project Management
- Project Management Institute, 2017, p. 44
- Pmi.org. (2018). Governance rules! The principles of effective project governance. [online] Available at: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/project-governance-principles-corporate-perspective-6528
… as it applies to portfolios, projects and project management, coexists within the corporate governance framework. It comprises the value system, responsibilities, process, and policies that allow projects to achieve organisational objectives and foster implementation that is in the best interests of all stakeholders, internal and external, and the corporation itself.
Klakegg, Williams, Magnussen and Glasspool (2008)
… is and organised structure, established as authoritative within the institution, comprising processes and rules established to ensure projects meet their purpose.
… provides the authority and guidance necessary to enable the project.
… is a sub-set of corporate governance, focusing on the areas of corporate governance related to project activities, including:
Bekker and Steyn (2007)
… set of management systems, rules, protocols, relationships, and structures that provide the framework within which decisions are made for project development and implementation to achieve the intended business or strategic motivation.
Hazard and Crawford (2004)
… a set of formal principles, structures and processes for the undertaking and management of projects, applicable in the context of individual projects, programs or portfolios of projects which:
Association of Project Management (APM) (2004)
… concerns those areas of corporate governance that are specifically related to project activities. Effective governance of project management ensures that an organisations projects portfolio is aligned to the organisations objectives, is delivered efficiently, and is sustainable. Governance of project management also supports the means by which the board, and other major project stakeholders, are provided with timely, relevant, and reliable information.
Figure 1. Structure of Goldsmiths (WOS) as an organisation
Figure 2. Structure of H.Samuel as an organisation
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