South East Training - The Project Management Toolkit

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Project Governance

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Whilst the day-to-day running of a project is the responsibility of the project leader or manager, tasks such approving the project plan, approving changes to the project scope and making decisions such as whether or not to terminate a project earlier than planned are usually the responsibility of a different authority. For small projects affecting only one department, these responsibilities might lie with the departmental manager. However, if the project uses resources from several different departments or if it has a wider impact than in just one area, these responsibilities may be shared by a board or committee.

Establishing the correct governance arrangements from the start is essential if territorial difficulties are to be avoided later in the process.

Typical Project Structure 

The diagram below illustrates a typical, although not universal, project structure.


Project Board

The role of the Board is to provide overall direction and management of the project.


The Project Board is composed of three functions:

  • Executive – who is ultimately accountable for the project
  • Senior User – who is accountable for any products supplied by the users and represents the interests of those who will benefit from or be affected by the project
  • Senior Supplier – who is accountable for the quality of the products delivered by the suppliers and represents the interests of that group.

Project Board members are representatives at management level from the business, user and/or specialist/supplier area.

  • Must be senior enough to fulfil needs of role
  • Must have appropriate authority/empowerment
  • Must be decision makers
  • Must be able to commit/supply resource.

Roles may be combined or shared according to the needs of the project.


  • Approves all major plans
  • Authorises major deviation from plans
  • Stage sign-off
  • Commitment of resources
  • Conflict resolution
  • Appointment of the project leader
  • Project assurance

Project Manager/Leader

The Project Manager or Leader has day-to-day management for the project.


  • Ensures products delivered on time, to required quality within cost
  • Directs and motivates the project team
  • Plans and monitors the project
  • Manages risks
  • Takes responsibility for changes
  • Liaises with interfacing programmes, projects and suppliers
  • Reports to the Project Board.

Project Team

  • Works in parallel with the project leader
  • Assesses potential problems and opportunities against plan
  • Develops preventive and contingent actions in relation to plan
  • Assesses risks to plan
  • Develops strategies for managing people elements
  • Implements plan
  • Aids the evaluation of the project.

Project Support

When required, Project Support may be required to provide:

  • Advice on the use of project management tools
  • Administrative services
  • Configuration management.

Project Support is sometimes referred to as the Project Management Office or PMO.

Project Assurance

The Project Board is responsible for Project Assurance. However, as the Project Board may not have the time or the right expertise to assure all the project's outputs, this function, though not the responsibility, may be delegated.

  • Project Assurance ensures the following on a day-to-day basis:
    • the project continues to be worth doing
    • the outputs will function as specified
    • the outputs will be usable by the business
  • Independent of the Project leader
  • Project Assurance reports to the Project Board.