The Client's Challenge
The Deputy CEO of the Victorian State Government's Department of Education and Early Childhood (DEECD) was concerned that despite the presence of Project Sponsors and Steering Committees, projects were still failing too often. He concluded that the governance activities were not effective.
An internal team assessed the level of governance understanding across the Department and found it to be low-to-none. They therefore issued a Request for Tender to supply Project Governance education to the department. TOP was selected to provide the training.
Project governance training was commissioned for
- Project Sponsors and Steering Committee members, and
- Project Managers (to understand how to relate to and manage their governance teams).
In addition, each executive was offered up to four hours one-on-one coaching after the training to help them put their new knowledge into practice.
The Department initially requested two one-day courses, one each for the two groups of participants. This approach was later modified to make the Sponsor/Steering Committee training two half days so as to reduce the immediate time impact of the training session on the executives.
- Despite it being voluntary, over 60% of senior Departmental executives were trained
- All 230 project managers were trained
- Each course was rated at above 4.5 out of 5 by the participants. No score below 4 was rated over the 32 training sessions run.
- The level of understanding and cooperation between the project and governance teams increased – for example, some project managers met with their sponsors for the first time!
- Accountability for the project transferred on eight projects as, when the true desired outcomes were identified, the existing sponsor was found to be inappropriate
- Governance teams stopped six projects that were ‘going off the rails’ rather than continuing them. Although projects were still ‘failing’ they were now being stopped rather than collapsing – this was acknowledged as a positive step
- The duration of Steering Committee meetings actually fell in most cases as they were more focused and better informed – they had a common agenda, sponsors found they could cover the ground with full discussion but no ‘waffle’ in less time now that they fully understood their role and the questions to ask.
The role of project governance was finally understood so that the relevant executives could take it on and accept accountability for it.
Executives reported being able to ask the right questions and thereby increase their comfort that the project was or was not OK and were able to take appropriate action.
Project Managers reported a far higher level of involvement by their governance teams to the benefit of their projects.
The Department was acknowledged by the State Auditors as leading the State Government in this area.
“Some vital behaviours for effective project governance have been imparted and adopted through stories during the project governance training.” - Thai Ngan, Governance Project Director