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Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt explore the importance of programme governance .

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Corporate governance practices are built on the premise that the leaders of companies have an obligation to be fair, transparent, accountable and responsible in their conduct toward shareholders and civil society.

On programmes the following governance challenges are typical:

  • Management and governance are done by the same resources
  • Governance is poorly understood
  • Governance structures are not fit-for-purpose

In reality we have companies apply a one size fits all in terms of applying governance strictures on projects and programmes. The design of suitable programme governance structures is highly specific and is both organisation and situation dependant.  There is no single best practice applicable to all situations.

To ensure effective governance, consider the following principles:

Programme governance does, however, need to be fit for purpose and some of the considerations include:

  • Programme sponsor:  The sponsor takes responsibility for governance of the programme and is accountable to the company board.  The sponsor requires a clear terms of reference and delegated authority (mandate)
  • Company boards:  The board approves the execution of programme through the various stages and issues a mandate to the programme sponsor
  • Programme steering committees:  Steering committees play an advisory role to the sponsor and require cross-functional membership to reflect the stakeholders in the programme
  • Project steering committees:  These are required for sub-projects of sufficient scale, complexity and risk
  • Steering committee membership:  Membership must be confined to a small core group of ‘experts’ that can support the sponsor as well the leadership team of the programme or project.
  • Enterprise Project Management Office (PMO):  Ensure that the projects and programmes are executed according to the company project related procedures and governance principles;
  • Delegation of authority:  In contrast to individual projects, the programme cannot be effectively executed within the ‘normal’ approval limits.  It is advisable to delegate and set up appropriate commercial structures and approval levels to enable smooth turn-around of procurement documents.


For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.