How to setup a good project governance structure


Article summary

This article describes project governance, its role within the organization and the principles, tasks and elements of good governance. It deals with the questions:

  • What is governance? Why is it needed?

  • What are the principles of good governance?

  • How to assure good governance structures (roles, tasks and elements), can be easily setup, accepted and maintained?

  • Why is governance critical to project success?

Finally, it looks at the traditional governance structure versus agile/scrum governance and describes some hands-on tips and tricks to implement good governance at every stage of your project.

What is governance?

The Cambridge dictionary describes governance as ‘the way that organizations or countries are managed at the highest level, and the systems for doing this’, and also: ‘the activity of governing something’.

Translating this into our world of business organisations and project- and/or program management, a more precise definition could be: ‘Establishment of policies, and continuous monitoring of their proper implementation, by the members of the governing body of an organization. It includes the mechanisms required to balance the powers of the members (with the associated accountability), and their primary duty of enhancing the prosperity and viability of the organization’.

Hence project governance is the management framework within which project decisions are made.

Table of Content

  • How to setup a good project governance structure

    • Article summary

    • What is governance?

    • Problem statement: lack of organisational knowledge on project governance

    • Project governance

      • Purpose

      • Principles

      • Roles

      • The project manager

      • Project stakeholders

      • Steering Committee

      • Tasks and elements of project governance

    • Traditional governance versus Agile/Scrum governance

  • Final Thoughts: Why Is Project Governance Critical to the Success of a Project?

About the author


Frank Smits is a managing consultant at Initio Belgium, with over 20 years of hands-on project-, program management and business case management experience. He is also a certified Agile/Scrum product owner.