Governance – a topic that likely strikes mild concern, or at best vague interest in the hearts and minds of most managers. Does it really matter if status reports are not submitted on time? Do those risks need to be formally logged? Can’t timesheets wait until the end of the month? My team hasn’t changed, why do you need a forecast?
It never fails to surprise us here at SQA Consulting how often the importance of governance functions is forgotten. When commencing with client engagement discovery, we find that even blue-chip organisations might only have a minimal governance team or no such support at all. Frequently where teams do exist, they are sometimes seen more as an administrative support function and are perhaps too junior or too understaffed to have much impact.
Managers from governance teams often do not have a seat at the senior leadership table and therefore there is limited understanding of what governance needs to deliver and how it underpins delivery and organisational processes. This results in poor compliance with governance processes from the wider team and irrelevant, or incomplete information being gathered. It is sometimes a downward spiral to governance appearing to be an irrelevant exercise in red tape.
Where do you even start when assessing governance requirements at any level in your organisation?
Whether you are talking about projects, programmes, portfolios or the wider organisation, a governance strategy or plan is likely to involve developing or enhancing existing processes and the introduction of new processes. Stakeholders need to understand the impact and benefits of a process on their day-to-day work or the wider organisation.
Design should also include the people expected to use the framework – taking them on the journey voluntarily should result in a more successful transition, rather than just imposing a blanket set of rules. The requirement for training and handholding should not be underestimated. Embedding the new ways of working, particularly where new frameworks and tooling are to be introduced, is not a simple task.
In advising and supporting our clients with their governance requirements, we apply the following criteria:
Applicability / relevance
Is this process / artefact / forum appropriate to the project / programme / department etc?
What level of formality is appropriate?
How much flexibility is allowable? Can we bend the rules on detail, timelines, attendance?
Effective communication is essential to good governance both in terms of its design and subsequent escalation and cascade of relevant information. Good communication can help the whole organisation stay aligned in terms of:
- Vision and strategy
- Decision making
- Risk management
- Data/Management information including finances
- Sales figures
- Talent management etc.
If a corporate strategic goal is to move to Agile delivery, no matter how positive and motivated your team, this will not happen overnight, and good governance is instrumental in the success of delivery. Team structures will need to change, roles may change, individual performance objectives will be impacted, there will be a new delivery framework and tools, measurements and reporting will all need to be agreed and explained to senior stakeholders so that they understand value. All of this must be wrapped in a comprehensive (and sensitive) communications plan. It is a huge undertaking to define and track this effort and not possible without the support that the governance function provides in the shape of project management office, business management and operational management teams.
Once governance is in place, it must not become a static rule book or the stick to beat managers with. It should be seen as a living and breathing set of structures, frameworks, processes, tools, artefacts, ceremonies, and forums, which will need to continuously improve and adapt to remain relevant to the needs of the organisation.
For over a decade SQA Consulting has been a global market-leader supporting our diverse blue-chip client network with their Transformation and Governance requirements.
If you want to learn more about how governance can support your transformation programme or organisation as a whole contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44(0)161 503 0533 where our team of dedicated experts can assist you.