Project governance is usually seen as starting when the build phase starts. But it can—and really should—start much earlier, a point which was brought out when I spoke to the folks at IndigoBlue last week.
For example, consider governance of a programme which consists of a number of projects. Decisions made at this level can reshape an entire project, changing its scope, resourcing or purpose. It’s clear that governance decisions can happen entirely outside the bounds of the project’s build phase. And clearly such decisions can be entirely legitimate and appropriate.
Taking this one step further, we can see that these kind of project-related decisions do not need to rely on an actual programme to exist. We can create a project decision structure which starts before the build phase and finishes some time after it. We would be creating a structure around which we can make all kinds of steering decisions, including the critical (and often invisible) stages before the build starts.
We could even start the governance from the initial finger-in-the-air estimate or idea. That may sound odd to some, but this is just a way of managing the evolving project, including communication around projected cost, impact, scope, and so on. Once we have a baseline—any baseline—any organised change to that can be considered governance.
So let’s favour organised change—a transparent and consistent process. Most governance processes start much later, but a transparent and consistent change process for any baselined project will aid speed, focus and the ability for the organisation to improve.