Top 5 Signs of Poor Project Governance

When done well, project governance can elevate your project management activities to the next level and help secure greater project success rates. However, poor project governance can end up eating into valuable time and resources with little value-added. To make sure you are making the most out of your project governance activities, here’s our list of the top 5 signs of poor project governance.

What is project governance?

Project governance is the systems and processes that define responsibility, accountability and decision-making mechanisms that relate to a project. It is a critical component for project success that enables teams to have the clarity and confidence to make the right decisions.

Because the majority of project governance literature has been based on traditional linear project frameworks, project governance has often become synonymous with bureaucratic rules and stage-gate processes. However, these limiting views restrict project governance to its outcomes, not its functions. 

Kujala and others suggest that project governance has six distinct dimensions – Goal setting, incentivising, monitoring, coordinating, decision-making and capability building. While the well-known rules and controls help facilitate some of those dimensions, rules for rule’s sake have no purpose. 

Project governance is thus primarily focused on providing frameworks that help organisations make ethical, effective, and strategically aligned decisions that consider all relevant stakeholders to enable project objectives to be achieved.

Why do you need good project governance?

A review of project governance effectiveness in Australia commissioned by the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications revealed that 87% of projects did not have an approved governance plan and up to 54% of respondents attribute project failure to ineffective project governance. 

Having proper project governance structures brings many benefits to organisations, including:

  • Providing organisations with clarity over project accountability
  • Improving project scope management
  • Enabling effective project risk and issue management
  • Streamlining project processes, communication and decision-making

Read more about project governance benefits here.

5 Signs of Poor Project Governance

1. Decision-making process is unclear and slow

Are your teams constantly floundering when unexpected problems hit their projects? Or are your governance committee taking excessive amounts of time to come to a decision? Your project governance processes may either be too complex or lack enough definition.

Clearly defined responsibilities and chains of command are critical for effective project governance, especially regarding risk and issue management. If not addressed in a timely and accurate manner, project issues can quickly escalate to bigger risks and can potentially derail the entire project. Additionally, if your project governance process is overly complex, teams lose the critical agility they need to respond to ongoing changes within the project.

2. Teams are spending excessive amounts of time on documentation

Though project governance can help significantly with accountability and ensuring compliances are met, especially with newer practical PPM tools, governance committees may feel tempted to overkill on documentation simply because it can be done.

As mentioned, the value of project governance is not just keeping in line with rules but making sure the most value is delivered and project objectives are met. If teams are spending more time documenting processes rather than making decisions, that is a clear sign of a bloated and wasteful project governance process.

Make sure to conduct a process analysis to help determine non-value-adding steps that can and make your governance process more lean and effective.

3. Demotivated team members

Project governance is all about supporting your teams with the right frameworks to allow them to work more effectively and achieve the results they desire. It is more than just practices and processes, but is also about reflecting the right cultures of the organisation as a whole. If governance frameworks are built-in and reflect environments that encourage teams to flourish, there is a higher chance for project success. 

If your teams are running on Agile, yet senior management is still expecting traditional stage-gate progress updates, teams can become bogged down with bureaucratic activities that don’t serve them or the project. Additionally, if cultures and processes do not align with the team’s vision and practices, it will become a challenge for project targets to be met which can further demotivate team members.

Project governance is not merely a project level endeavour but should be taken on in a holistic organisation-wide manner. Make sure that cultures and practices are aligned as they are critical to effective project governance and project success, especially in Agile environments where culture clashes are reportedly one of the biggest reasons Agile projects fail.

4. Organisation’s board focus more on management than strategy

Good project governance frameworks help projects manage themselves so your board can focus more on making strategic decisions rather than micromanaging the everyday activities of their project teams. 

It might take some time for your project governance frameworks to be fully formed and there will always be further optimizations that you can make along the way. However, if you notice that your teams, particularly senior management, is still dedicating a lot of their time and effort to managing your project governance practices long after initial implementation, you have a project governance red flag.

Take time to properly analyse your project governance practices and identify critical pain points that may be acting as bottlenecks or potential gaps in the structure. The faster you can build a robust governance framework, the faster your senior management and board can focus on big vision and strategic planning.

5. Poor stakeholder engagement

If you notice stakeholder satisfaction is going down, your project governance process may lack effective stakeholder engagement. Successful projects engage and consult with their relevant stakeholders to make sure projects are fulfilling the right requirements and are delivering the intended value. 

Failing to do so critically limits effective decision making as teams do not have proper feedback and input from their key recipients, particularly in Agile projects that emphasize the delivery of customer value. Without proper structures to govern stakeholder engagement, teams may be engaging stakeholders sporadically and ineffectively leading to ineffective miscommunications, unmet expectations and last-minute changes that can seriously impact the overall project success rate.

There is no point in making sure everything is in place for a project to succeed if it does not address the needs of the key stakeholders.

Take your Project Governance to the next level with pmo365

Project governance is a holistic endeavour and it takes significant effort to effectively monitor, manage and control the many variables involved in project success. 

That’s exactly where pmo365 steps in. With its intuitive software and input from PPM experts, pmo365’s solution automates your governance activities, conducts deep analysis on your processes to optimise them, gives you full visibility over your project progress and integrates all your project-related data onto a single platform so you don’t miss out on any changes within your projects. 

If you want to see our amazing project governance tool in action, make sure to book a demo with our PPM experts today!

What is project governance?

Project governance is the infrastructure that defines responsibility, accountability and process mechanisms over a project. It acts as the backbone of your projects and project teams, enabling them to have the clarity and confidence to make the right decisions.

Why do you need good project governance?

A review of project governance effectiveness in Australia commissioned by the Australian Government of Infrastructure revealed that 87% of projects did not have an approved governance plan and up to 54% of respondents attribute project failure to ineffective project governance. 

5 Signs of Poor Project Governance

1. Decision-making process is unclear and slow
2. Teams are spending excessive amounts of time on documentation
3. Demotivated team members
4. Organisation’s board focus more on management than strategy
5. Poor stakeholder engagement

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