Arcus' recent initiative to improve the governance of projects in a major Italian Construction Group involved:

  • Defining and implementing a PM Improvement programme using an internal team;
  • Aligning the Board with governance principles, despite considerable initial skepticism and disagreement. We interviewed Board members individually before running a Board workshop;
  • Coaching the PM’s on live projects and training people to facilitate key events (such as Scope Definition, Planning etc.).

The governance of project management is not the rigid application of a complex methodology.

The best results come from the intelligent application of principles, combined with the proportionate delegation of responsibility and the monitoring of internal control systems.

For example:

  • The board has overall responsibility for governance of project management.
  • The roles, responsibilities and performance criteria for the governance of project management are clearly defined.
  • Disciplined governance arrangements, supported by appropriate methods and controls, are applied throughout the project life cycle.
  • A coherent and supportive relationship is demonstrated between the overall business strategy and the project portfolio.
  • All projects have an approved plan containing authorisation points at which the business case is reviewed and approved. Decisions made at authorisation points are recorded and communicated.
  • Members of delegated authorisation bodies have sufficient representation, competence, authority and resources to enable them to make appropriate decisions.
  • The project business case is supported by relevant and realistic information that provides a reliable basis for making authorisation decisions.
  • The board or its delegated agents decide when independent scrutiny of projects and project management systems is required, and implement such scrutiny accordingly.
  • There are clearly defined criteria for reporting project status and for the escalation of risks and issues to the levels required by the organisation.
  • The organisation fosters a culture of improvement and of frank internal disclosure of project information.

Our experience shows that improvements are best implemented using a team of capable people in the client's own organisation to ensure:

  • Internal buy-in;
  • That the improvements fit with the culture of the organisation and are seen as adding value; and
  • Sustainability through motivation and the development of internal resources.

Typically we manage the improvement through a programme of coordinated projects using best practice programme management. Initiatives vary with the maturity of the organisation, but could include:

  • Implementation of a methodology emphasizing clear roles and rules, templates and examples which are of direct use to the people involved;
  • Introduction of techniques and improving tools to aid communication;
  • Development of integrated planning, monitoring and control;
  • Introduction of Value Assurance Teams;
  • Changes to the existing systems to provide real-time reporting and to reduce the work-load for reporting to a minimum;
  • Improved communications with external stakeholders (including approvers); and
  • Introduction of Value Management to improve communications with approval authorities.