This is part four of a series on how to manage a project.

This turned out to be a multi-page article. I pasted the summary and action steps below. Download the whole article as a PDF here.


Governance is the term given to providing oversight on a project. Governance processes ensure that the project is performing as expected: so it covers setting targets around what is expected and checking up that the project is achieving them.

The main way that this happens is via the Project Board meetings. The project sponsor and the rest of the project board can hold the project manager to account during these meetings.

In this guide, we’ll look at:

  • What governance is
  • Why it is important
  • What it looks like
  • Project boards
  • Your project sponsor, especially starting that relationship off well
  • Why governance processes might not be working and what to do about them.


Governance is basically oversight. It means that there are processes in place to check that the work is progressing as expected and everything is going to plan. Governance helps you spot when things start to go awry, so you can quickly move to do something about it. In summary:

  • The project sponsor is responsible for governance, although the project manager does most of the tasks that need ‘governing’
  • The project board is the main way for ensuring the project is on track. Reporting and project assurance are other ways
  • Set up an effective project board
  • Build effective working relationships with your project sponsor
  • Only use processes that are fit for purpose.

Action Steps

  • Book your Project Board/Steering Group meetings for the rest of the year
  • Ask a trusted colleague to review your project and try to spot any weaknesses in your governance approach
  • Talk to the PMO or, if you don’t have a PMO, other people doing a similar job to you in your company, and check if there are processes you should be following that you currently are not.
  • Talk to your sponsor about their responsibilities for governance
  • Review your project business case. Governance exists to ensure you deliver what’s in there. How close are you going to get?
  • Make sure your team understands the point of governance and what they need to do to support you and the sponsor.

Next month: Part 5: Closure: How to close down a project properly.