Good Governance: A Great Way to Build Trust and Positive Relationships

By Jack Krutak

Ever wondered what might be (one of the) secret ingredients for a successful, transformational IT project? Well, other than the obvious and well-documented stuff such as good Project Management discipline, you will also need a robust and effective governance, shared with your customer. It’s not an unnecessary overhead or an administrative burden. It is key to every project’s success.

What does good governance look like? And how does it work?

Several key features of good governance can proactively de-escalate and resolve conflicts in IT projects before they boil over:

●     Robust terms of reference established early on

●     A strong and decisive Project Executive, with a balanced view of the business and project priorities

●     Proactive communication strategies

●     Ability to build consensus among stakeholders

●     Regular review of risks and mitigation strategies

●     Cultivating a culture of collaboration and trust.

It is absolutely crucial that both vendor and customer are aligned from the beginning on all of these issues.

We’re In This Together

Good governance provides a joint platform for proactive risk management and mitigation and creates a shared responsibility for managing risks (noticed how I didn’t say “shared ownership”? You still need just one risk owner.

The Project Board typically drives governance. It provides the opportunity for vendors and customers to meet regularly to discuss progress, identify risks and solutions, and come to agreed decisions quickly.

For example, business users using the project product might be unable to clearly articulate and prioritise requirements. This is likely to create problems later down the track during testing and deployment but such a problem can be solved, so identify it early on. The Board can escalate this internally and assist the business either by mobilising additional resources or clarifying business priorities. It is a great way to build trust and positive relationships.

Projects need transparency and clarity at all levels. Accomplish this with open and structured communication and escalation processes.

Good governance should be set up to represent Senior Users from the Business, Senior Suppliers including internal suppliers (for example, the IT department of the customer), and Project Executives (Senior Responsible Officers) with appropriate seniority within the customer organisation.

When implementing multiple levels of governance, avoid having the same group of people meeting repeatedly under different circumstances. Maintain separation of duties. Keep the process efficient and effective.

Good governance in IT projects

IT projects come with their special challenges.

The most common mistake in managing IT projects is for good governance to be seen as unnecessary, optional, or burdensome.

Sometimes, the customer has established good governance, but the vendor (Senior Supplier) is not represented. There’s a risk here that the Board might be presented with incomplete or skewed information. Suboptimal decisions will be the result.

Again, ensure everyone is aligned. Additionally, conduct regular project governance reviews. Make sure your project is delivering against the expectations of both parties. Set the expectations early. And be sure to tailor the governance process to the risk profile of your project.

By implementing good governance from the beginning, you can de-escalate and resolve conflicts, ensuring an effective and efficient project.

And in the long term? Build a great reputation.

Jack Krutak is Global Head of Delivery at Objective Corporation.