Running projects can get pretty complicated. With all the changing business needs, limited resources, and making sure everyone on the team is pulling their weight, it can feel like juggling a bunch of balls at once. That’s where project steering committees come in – they’re like the superheroes of project management.
A steering committee serves as the executive backbone, providing vital support for strategic planning and project direction and adeptly resolving challenges to ensure that projects adhere to their intended trajectories and ultimately achieve their objectives.
Picture it as a high-level guardian overseeing the project landscape, ready to intervene and recalibrate when necessary.
Consider the steering committee as the lighthouse in the foggy expanse of project management, illuminating the way forward and aiding in the circumvention of potential obstacles. Their role is akin to problem-solving virtuosos, adeptly navigating through complexities to both resolve conflicts and maintain the overall project scope’s alignment with its predefined goals.
In simpler terms, a steering committee is like having a group of experienced mentors who guide you through the ups and downs of your project, making sure you reach the finish line successfully.
Steering committees are made up of different folks – board officers, big-shot stakeholders, experts, executives, regular department folks, and even some client representatives from the client side.
These committee members get together to chat and work together on figuring out what projects are important, what needs to be tackled first, and how to keep everything in check. They’re like the brainpower behind the scenes.
Their job? Well, they guide the project manager on all sorts of things. It’s like having a bunch of experienced minds giving advice on how to steer the project ship.
Now, here’s the deal: completing projects is no walk in the park. Actually, it’s more like a bit of a struggle. Stats say that only a tiny 3% of companies manage to finish all their projects. And get this – most companies end up spending way more money on ongoing projects than they planned, about 27% more! That’s like shelling out extra cash you didn’t expect.
But here’s where the steering committee swoops in. They’re the project watchdogs, making sure everything stays on track – the budget, the overall project scope, and the timeline, and making sure no unexpected issues pop up. They’re the project superheroes, saving the day and making sure things get done right.
A steering committee comprises key stakeholders and representatives from pivotal departments with a significant stake and substantial interest in the project’s successful outcome. The committee is structured to include these senior stakeholders:
Steering committees play a crucial role in overseeing and managing specific activities within an organization’s strategy, whether it’s a special project, compensation matters, or even the oversight of the board itself.
Now, here’s the interesting part: while steering committees are deeply involved in these activities, they’re not the ones rolling up their sleeves to get the work done.
Instead, they team up with a project manager, acting like the project’s strategic partners, ensuring that a dedicated team handles all the tasks on time and within the budget.
They often leverage board portal software to efficiently manage corporate governance, documents, communications, and reporting – kind of like their secret weapon.
Each steering committee has its own set of guidelines laid out in what’s called a committee charter. This charter spells out everything – the committee’s mission, its roles and responsibilities, who’s on the team, and more.
You might be wondering, with project managers in the picture, why bring in an external steering committee? Well, that’s where the big-picture magic happens. Steering committees are like the wise elders of the project world. They bring in an external perspective, ensuring that risks are under control, budgets are in check, and any conflicts are resolved. They basically keep projects cruising on the right path.
Now, get this: research shows that steering committees are not just a trendy thing; they’re a well-established and widely accepted practice, especially in the realm of IT management. Over 80% of IT companies have steering committees and a whopping 69% swear by their effectiveness.
When companies set up steering committees, they’re not just adding more layers – they’re adding a layer of safeguarding. Steering committees bring immense value by offering advisory support that goes beyond the day-to-day operations of the regular project teams. They’re like the guardians ensuring that everything runs smoothly and successfully.
Steering committee meetings, tailored to the project and organization, typically have senior leadership and shoulder varied responsibilities for project success. Here are the common tasks for project management committees:
Think of steering committee members as seasoned mentors. With their wealth of experience, they dish out recommendations to navigate the project successfully.
Beyond advice, the committee shapes the project’s goals and objectives, giving it a clear sense of direction. These goals should be concrete and trackable, ensuring the committee can keep the project on course and make adjustments if needed.
Picture the steering committee as architects sketching out the project’s timeline and budget. They break down the work into milestones with deadlines, ensuring everything stays on track.
Managing the project budget becomes their forte, carefully overseeing progress to match the predetermined timeline and financial plan.
The steering committee acts as the whole project management software’s quality control squad, following a three-step process:
1. Setting Standards: Identify quality standards and share them with stakeholders to align everyone with the project’s goals.
2. Regular Audits: Routinely check the project quality and standards to ensure the project stays on course, making adjustments if needed. These audits also ensure project deliverables meet safety standards mandated by the law.
3. Tracking Results: Keep a meticulous record of results to assess performance, track progress easily, and recommend necessary changes to steer the project toward completion.
Anticipating the unexpected is the forte of a proactive steering committee. They use five key questions to evaluate and monitor project risks:
After answering these questions, they craft a plan to tackle each identified risk head-on.
Project outcomes are the final masterpieces. The project metrics steering committee ensures they are specific, measurable, and meaningful. By defining these outcomes, organizations articulate the project’s purpose and impact, ensuring it aligns perfectly with the desired results.
The Business Manager assumes a pivotal role in steering the project towards success by overseeing both the project manager and the business case owner.
Their critical responsibility involves evaluating the project from a strategic business perspective, ensuring that it not only aligns with overarching business objectives and interests but also rigorously determines the justifiability of costs against the anticipated benefits.
The Senior Users, acting as staunch advocates for end-user satisfaction, play a crucial role in the steering committee.
Representing the group for whom the project is designed, they function as the discerning end-users of the product or service.
Their paramount responsibility is to ensure that project goals and deliverables not only align seamlessly with user requirements but also strive for the ultimate satisfaction of the end-user.
The Senior Supplier is the operational linchpin, providing vital manpower, budgetary oversight, and essential services for the project’s success.
Whether hailing from the organization’s IT department or an external stakeholder, their role extends beyond providing resources.
They meticulously ensure adherence to design, product, and other pertinent standards while evaluating the feasibility of the product or service within the constraints of the budget and the project plan. Their operational stewardship is indispensable for the project’s smooth progression.
Establishing a steering committee involves more than assembling a group; it requires clear direction, a strategic action plan, and adequate resources to support project teams effectively.
A crucial tool in this endeavor is the creation of a project steering committee charter. This document serves as an actionable roadmap, delineating the fundamental vision, direction, and operations of the committee.
It outlines how the committee will both provide guidance and support to project teams and establish the framework for its establishment and functioning.
Key components to be included in a project steering committee charter encompass:
The frequency and duration of project management steering committee meetings are contingent upon the project’s complexity, size, and scope. However, as a general guideline, these advisory group meetings should strategically align with specific project milestones to facilitate a clear assessment of the project plans and progress.
Arbitrary scheduling of the steering committees increases as committee work meetings on predefined days within a month may prove less beneficial.
For instance, if the imminent project milestone pertains to “Preparing the content creation calendar,” the subsequent steering committee meeting should be convened post-completion of that milestone.
This approach not only enables the systematic tracking of progress from one meeting to the next but also ensures the judicious utilization of team and project resources.
Aligning meetings and positive and timely communication along with critical project milestones optimizes the committee’s effectiveness in overseeing and monitoring progress and steering the project toward successful outcomes.
A meticulously crafted charter, proficient meeting management, and the integration of board portal software collectively epitomize the hallmarks of a commendable and effective steering committee itself.
Interestingly, these attributes contribute significantly to the establishment and successful performance of sound corporate governance.
Effective governance is predicated on ensuring that individuals with the requisite expertise comprehend their responsibilities and possess a lucid understanding of the parameters delineating decision-making processes.
This framework facilitates the seamless pursuit of organizational objectives with heightened efficiency and productivity—an imperative for the efficacy of all committees.
In essence, the synergies between a well-defined charter, adept meeting practices, and the utilization of board portal software fortify not only the steering committee but also serve as integral components in fostering robust corporate governance within an organization.
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