Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Creating a Practical Governance Document

11 Steps for Creating a Practical Project Management Governance Document

Do you remember the last time you traveled to a location and found you were lost? You may have decided to look to landmarks, find familiar streets, and feel your way through. However, you likely realized you needed a form of navigational help, and pulled out a map or GPS. Instead of having to guess at where to go next, these tools allowed you to know exactly where you were going.

The world of project management is a lot similar to this scenario when a governance plan is nowhere to be found. A project management governance document is a blueprint for navigating the most crucial aspects of your project. The ultimate goal of any governance plan is to help you and your team decide on a process of decision making and implementation. This is your GPS to a project that is within scope, budget, and deadline. So, how do you go about creating a governance framework that is effective for you and your team? Read on for 11 steps to create an actionable project management governance document.

Make Sure Your Team Understands the Importance of Governance

While anyone can create a document, individuals who are on the team need to understand how crucial governance is. It will be hard for them to see the significance in following a governance plan if you do not inform them of how it relates to their jobs. For example, your governance plan will likely address how workers should communicate with one another. You would likely talk about how vital consistent communication is to project completion and how this document outlines how you would go about doing this. Also, be sure to answer any questions your team may have about the various aspects of this document.

Select Your Governance Model

Every organization is unique, and specific projects may call for particular governance models. Be sure you understand the specifications required and how your chosen governance model will help you address them. Would you like your governance model to stick closely to agility or responsiveness or more so address accountability and participation? See where your current weaknesses and limitations are, and be sure your model directly addresses this.

Consult Teams, Managers, and Stakeholders

Each group is going to have some insight into components of governance that will help them succeed. As a project manager, you will have a limited view of what everyone needs as they participate in project completion. So, it makes sense to get insight from team members, managers, board members, and other stakeholders regarding what they would like to see in a governance document. Not only will their insight help you to build a plan that is useful to them, it also increases their engagement and investment in governance policies.

Define Accountability and Responsibilities

Regarding the actual governance document, one of the most critical parts of this plan is to define who is accountable for various aspects of the project, and what their responsibilities are. Be very clear about expectations, how they are being evaluated, and when each member of the team should be informed if there are scope changes. Spell out the types of tasks that they will be responsible for, and what their role is regarding decision making when it comes to their responsibilities.

Discuss Communication Protocols

Other than accountability, communication processes are likely the most important part of your document. You should decide on methods of communication and the times when discussion is important. For example, you should select a program that team members should use to communicate with each other throughout the day. This could be Slack, Skype instant messaging, or another instant communication software program. Decide on how often your team will meet to discuss project progress, how often you will require reports and metrics, when progress updates have to be sent to internal stake holders and board members, and how everyone will be informed of specific and overall project changes. Ensure that all communication scenarios are covered and documented.

Discuss Methods for Handling Risk and Problems

Throughout your project, unexpected situations will happen. Each moment of a project will have some type of risk attached. As a result, you have to outline how you will handle unintended problems as well as extended risks. Create a risk management strategy to go along with your governance policy. Decide on how you and your team will identify, manage, prioritize risks that arise in your project completion process. This can also extend to handling unintended problems and scope changes that may come.

How You Will Engage and Notify Stakeholders

Your internal stakeholder that are not on your team are going to want to know how all is shaping up with your project. Because they are not involved in the everyday processes, it is imperative to have a plan for keeping them engaged and informed. So, make sure you define who all of your internal stakeholders are (anyone who is impacted by the deliverables of the project) and create a strategy for keeping them in the loop. Work with these individuals to develop times to meet for in-person updates, invite them to sit in and experience project development first hand, determine the frequency for delivering reports, update them on milestones, and even select points of contact they can reach out to for specific questions regarding various aspects of the project.

Quality Control Processes

Planning for deliverable evaluation is essential to any project management process. You need to have a way to plan to control the quality of all deliverables produced by your team. There should be checks and balances in place for each project stages. This is where concepts like Agile project management really come into play. It allows for continuous evaluation and improvement so deliverables are always being checked for defects. It is also vital to have a plan for evaluating the process itself. Project deliverables may be produced without fault, but the time it takes to do this might be putting the team past deadlines. There may also be some communication issues or problems regarding efficient collaboration. As a result, it is imperative to create metrics for not only evaluating the deliverable but also analyzing the process it took to develop it. This should be reviewed constantly and shared with the team.

Establish a Meeting Protocol

Meetings can be incredibly helpful, but if used incorrectly they can also waste time and derail a project. To avoid this, outline meeting protocol in your governance plan. How often will you meet without the month? What is the exact purpose of these meetings? Will you have a progress meeting once a week while stakeholder up-dates occur once a month? What are the criteria for calling an emergency meeting, and who can approve this? How will everyone be informed of the meeting time and place? These are all details that should be outlined in this section of the governance document. When team members are aware of when they can expect meetings, they are more likely prepared to share progress and can schedule adequate time to participate.

Address Ethical Practices

While the hope is that an issue of ethics will never rear its head, it is still something worth discussing and addressing in the governance document. Touch on issues related to team member conduct, customer service, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, vendor relations, and even issues related to copyrights. Ensure that your team understands what it means to adhere to ethical standards. Also, be sure to see what the primary ethical issues are in your industry and be sure to address those as well. Making that step will help you cover all bases and prevent a serious issues that threatens the integrity of your company or your team.

Define Your Metrics

Take a moment to determine all the relevant metrics you will need, and define them. This will help your team have these benchmarks on their mind as they are working through the project development process. For example, what are the most pertinent metrics you will need for stakeholder engagement? Discuss what these are with your team and ensure they are being mindful of them as they work through their day and produce deliverables. You need to define the relevant metrics for risk and management, process improvement, quality control, and stakeholder communications. Many of these measurements may overlap, but it is important to identify them all and include them in the governance document for reference.

Final Thoughts

Project management is not easy. So much can happen between the start and completion of a project. The whole process can feel like a journey that has a tendency to veer off the designated path. Fortunately, the governance document can act as a road map that allows you to navigate the uncertainties of project management and related processes. Creating a project management governance policy document allows you to think ahead about the problems that may come. As a result, you have already identified a viable solution to solve any issues. Most problems will not seem like unforeseen circumstances as your pre-planning will address them. Helping your team to understand that the governance document is more like a roadmap than a rule book will help all of you to adhere to the policies and arrive at a successful project completion.