A feeling of things being beyond our control is something we’ve all had at times – especially over the past year and a half, but why is it important we are in control, and particularly when it comes to our projects? We have many years’ experience here at Simplify in putting governance and controls in place for projects. We have seen a vast array of problems result from a lack of project structure. We’ve helped guide our clients through what seems like a minefield of controls and governance making the whole thing seem clearer for them. From our experience at Simplify Consulting, we’ve got some Governance & Control top tips for you, to help you towards achieving a more successful project…

What should you consider and put in place first:

  • Roles and responsibilities – agree who is accountable for what, who should be doing what and get it all written down and published. This way it’s clear and should prevent you from the old slopey shoulders routine of “I didn’t do that because I assumed it was xx’s job”.
  • Communication strategy – identify and publish how you plan to communicate with everyone, and how you will tailor the level of detail to differing audiences – you don’t want a CEO having to wade through a 6 page report every week, they will likely want an exec summary, whereas someone working on the project may need to know more granular level detail.
  • Steering committee – these are your decision makers and should be senior people with the power to make those decisions. Your steer co, should include the person(s) who want the project to go ahead (sponsors) and those who have the most vested interest in it happening (key stakeholders). It is often worth having representatives from legal, compliance and finance departments too. Your steer co should meet regularly e.g., monthly or fortnightly depending on the timeframe of your project.
  • Working groups – these are the groups of people who are doing the work on the project and should be meeting with the PM regularly to review progress, next steps etc. Usually, these groups will meet weekly.

What about Controls?

  • Scope – What the project is to deliver should be identified and documented (usually in a PID – Project Initiation Document) so it can be agreed. From this point, any change to that scope either to increase or reduce it should go through your change control process. (see below).
  • Cost –  you should know how much has been allocated (budget), and be keeping track of how much has been spent so far, how much more is expecting to be spent and therefore what the total cost is likely to be by the end.
  • Schedule – the  plan! You should always have a project plan which identifies what and when and which things cannot happen until other things have (i.e., your dependencies). Progress should be tracked against this plan and communicated accordingly. Any major change to your plan which impacts the ultimate delivery date should be reviewed and agreed with your steering committee, via the change control process.
  • Risks – what might go wrong, or things which might happen, which if they did would have a detrimental effect on your project. These are risks and should be identified and recorded along with what can we do to prevent them from happening or minimise the damage if they do occur.
  • Issues, Assumptions, Dependencies – Its again a great idea to record and keep track of these often in a RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) log. Issues are the things which have gone wrong, and you are therefore (hopefully) in the middle of sorting out. Assumptions are the things you assume are going to be the case, but if not then would impact your project, and dependencies are the things which must happen to allow your project to proceed or continue.
  • Entry and Exit Criteria – if you are working on a project which has various stages which follow on from each other, it is a good idea to identify what needs to be done before  starting a stage and also how to determine a stage has been completed. These are referred to as entry and exit criteria. Once identified it is important these are adhered to.


Finally, Change Control….

  • Budget, scope and timelines – These should have been agreed at the start of your project, with that agreement being based on the project being of benefit overall if it takes the agreed time, and costs the agreed amount, in order to provide the agreed deliverables.
  • Approval Process – If any of these component parts need to change, the change control process involves analysing the impact of the potential change on the project and then seeking approval from the steering committee for the change.  If accepted, you may need to re-plan some or all of your remaining project. It is important that following an agreed change everything which has changed is documented and communicated out to all involved. To note, you may even need to revisit your roles and responsibilities too.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help guide you through setting up and running your projects with great governance and controls, please get in touch with us using info@simplifyconsulting.co.uk