When establishing program governance for a newly established program, a program manager takes on the responsibility for establishing program governance that governs all aspects of the program. In this context, the program manager is responsible for the governance of the program. This includes governing all the components and projects of the program and issues related to their execution and successful delivery of each of their benefits that together contribute to the overall program benefits.
However, one element related to program governance that doesn’t get much attention is the definition of the interaction between the program governance board and the program itself. The program governance board goes by different names in different organizations including a steering committee, board of directors, etc. The program governance board is needed to interact with the program for many reasons and unless those functions and processes are clearly defined, it can result in chaos after the program starts. Those elements of governance between the program governance board and the program include the following:
- Program initiation – This includes approving the program’s business case along with the final authorization and issuance of the program charter.
- Program funding – The program governance board has the complete financial responsibility for the initial funding and any funding related details and decisions after the initiation of the program.
- Program reviews – The program governance board should specify details related to the periodic program reviews.
- Program component and project initiation – The program governance board takes an active role before the initiation of the projects and components of the program and during their closure to ensure that they delivered the benefits that they were chartered to deliver.
- Formulating a detailed program governance plan – This plan includes processes such as those detailing the structure of the governance board and the overall structure, detailing the responsibilities of all parties within the governance structure, phase gate reviews, other reviews and their schedules, escalation processes, program level change management, defining the success criteria for program’s overall success, quality control and assurance standards, and reporting and control processes.
- Program acceptance criteria – The program governance board specifies the criteria related to the acceptance of the program’s various components and projects and their acceptance.
To conclude, when getting involved with a program, a program manager should ensure that not only those aspects of governance are defined that will enable him or her to control various projects and other components of the program but also to ensure defining and clarifying those aspects that pertain to the program interacting and reporting to the program governance board.