Project Portfolio Management

Portfolio Governance: Ensuring Alignment to Strategy

When you hear the word “governance,” what comes to mind? Chances are that everyone will come up with a slightly different answer, because “governance” covers such a large amount of ground. In a post for Voices on Project Management, Jen Skrabak explores the importance of governance and narrowing in on what that means to you and your organization.

Setting the Terms

According to Skrabak, portfolio managers “recognize that governance is perhaps the single most important enabler of good portfolio, program and project management.” She was the chair for a committee that recently accomplished a grand feat: defining “governance” in the context of the organization once and for all. The definition of “governance” can vary depending upon the area of the organization to which it is being applied. Within the organization, there are three tiers of authority and three contexts for the word “governance”:

  1. Organizational governance
  2. Portfolio management governance
  3. Portfolio governance

The organizational level of governance is composed of the board of directors and is the corporate level of business. Governance at this level helps to define policies and procedures, and it “typically includes areas of oversight such as regulatory, compliance, cultural, ethical, environmental, social responsibility and community.”

Portfolio management governance focuses on the program or project operating within the organization. This type of governance could involve defining the hierarchy and the relationships of those working on the project. Additionally, it can help define guidelines for a phase gate or methodology.

Portfolio governance encompasses the leadership on an individual portfolio. For example, some organizations have a capital investment committee to oversee the exorbitant funds in a startup. It is essential to have well-defined relationships on the project level, because there needs to be a direct line of authority that individuals follow.

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