Project Risks: Governance – Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Project Management, Testing, Uncategorized
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Travelling around different clients, with different objectives; different risk appetites; the one question that always comes up is related to Governance.

Irrespective of what Methodology your project is following; be it SCRUM, Waterfall, SCRUMFALL, there will always be a stakeholder or two that will want to know exactly what return on their investment they are getting. The title of this post includes the phrases “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”; I am going to outline my views on each of these situations and the potential impact each has on the project lifecycle and perception of the stakeholder.

 

“Too Much”

At first glance this seems a little counter intuitive; surely demonstrating full control of the project via the medium of metrics can only be good? To a point yes; but this is a case of knowing your audience. What happens if your project is only one of a wider portfolio that your stakeholder has budgetary responsibility for? Too much detail, may lead to disinterest or confusion. Key messages may become lost in the countless graphics and metrics.

To avoid this situation; it is imperative that boundaries and expectations are set as early in the project lifecycle. Agree the format and detail level with your stakeholder, ensure that they are engaged from the outset so that week on week you are providing decision grade information to assis the stakeholder to manage risk within the project.

“Too Little”

Again this seems an obvious statement, but sometimes when you are in the detail or under mounting pressure to deliver; these relatively “simple” steps can be overlooked. So what can happen in this situation? Well, depending on the vision and focus of your stakeholder, a lack of governance, can lead to the perception of panic or rather lack of control in your project space. Not having to hand the latest defect trends, the latest execution numbers will not install confidence that there is control within the project. If governance meetings are scheduled and there are conflicting messages being delivered from each of the project teams, the battle is lost. Stakeholders losing faith in their project team could be an ominous precursor to budget reductions and smaller releases, to reduce their “perceived” risk exposure.

Setting the boundary and expectation upfront, will provide the foundation to provide key messages during the project lifecycle. Delivering bad news in a controlled, consistent manner; though not necessarily welcomed; will still maintain confidence in the project team, decision grade information will allow options to be explored, mitigating risk where appropriate.

“Too Late”

Trying to apply governance when things start to go wrong, or after stakeholders have raised concerns with delivery is risky. Introducing governance in this situation could lead to the perception of the team being “Reactionary”. the stakeholder may feel that they need to follow closely ‘progress’.

In this situation, I believe the key is too start small. Introducing one or two measures to overcome the ‘reactionary’ tag, to increase confidence with stakeholder is key. Once the value is demonstrated, the team can work with the stakeholder to increase the level of decision grade information, to regain faith that project team is working in partnership, and is in control.

In all of these situations, the key is communication; which is often overlooked as a matter of course. Setting the expectation upfront, will ensure the level of governance is acceptable. Agreeing format and data collection tools is also key. Governance should be useful project tool, rather than a massive overhead and an invitation for criticism. providing good and bad messages on a project are par for the course; both messages need to be delivered with confidence and consistency to ensure stakeholders remain confident; giving projects the best chance to succeed

 

 

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