Program Governance

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Program governance is the processes by which a program is directed, controlled and held to account. For programs, this means a focus on producing the planned business outcomes to achieve the planned value (quality, benefit and blueprint) and of enabling the intended strategic result. Program governance is delegated from the Executive team (the Sponsoring Group) to the senior responsible owner (SRO).

Program Governance Roles

There are two key governance group roles in program management:

  • The Sponsoring Group
  • The program board

The organisation chart below displays the hierarchy of the program governance roles.

Sponsoring Group

The Sponsoring Group’s key role is to deliver the organisation’s future capability and related benefits through the program. The following key actions are expected of an effective Sponsoring Group in relation to a program:

Ensure strategic alignment

  • Ensure that the benefits to be delivered and strategic goals achieved are clear and measurable
  • Decide whether the program progresses through a decision gate

Ensure governance alignment

  • Make sure that the governance decision roles and structures are defined and decision are aligned with the organisation’s direction
  • Make sure that any decision made clearly considers the good of the organisation as a whole

Ensure senior management commitment

  • Assign senior managers (as SROs) to ensure that programs are successfully delivered.
  • Contribute expertise in their areas and assist colleagues (where needed) to ensure good practice delivery

Establish oversight support and management information

  • Determine the required information for successful decision making and create expertise/structures and responsibilities to ensure that this is provided
  • Assess proposals, changes and information from the program in the context of the portfolio as a whole and make trade-off decisions where required
  • Review and approve the organisation’s key practices for project, program and portfolio management

Ensure an energised change culture

  • Ensure that the ‘story’ associated with the program is communicated and that understanding is tested
  • Check that relevant stakeholders have been engaged and that their needs have been considered and actioned, where appropriate

Program Board

The program board is responsible for the successful delivery of the program, and any projects in the program, supporting the SRO to govern change. The program board acts as champions, ensuring support is in place to provide requirements and other input, resource, business impact information and ownership of the program’s products and benefits. The program board brings business specific knowledge, acting for the good of both the program and the organisation as a whole.

The following key actions are expected of an effective program board:

  • Remain aligned with the organisation strategy and deliver benefits
  • Conduct formal checks for alignment at key decision milestones. Any change to the program blueprint or business case will require a full re-assessment
  • Support the SRO to define benefits (in line with the organisation’s benefits realisation approach) and ensure that these benefits can be realised throughout the program’s life
  • Ownership of the benefits and the plans for their successful delivery will be passed to specific business leaders

Lead change and communicate the required future

  • Ensure the change journey is defined and that key points of communication are scheduled
  • Ensure all involved (including groups outside of the program) understand their part in delivering it
  • Define stakeholder roles in the program and stakeholder feedback will be used to guide program action

Design and deliver a coherent capability

  • The program board will deliver a required business capability that includes process, structure, skills, knowledge, behaviour and culture (as outlined in the blueprint)
  • Define the acceptable level of variation (tolerances) for decision-making

Learn from experience

  • The program board will periodically review its performance against its planning documents and implement any changes in the next part of the program
  • They will also review the organisation’s processes associated with project/program delivery and recommend improvements or alterations where it sees a need
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