Alternative name(s)

‍‍Enterprise Project Governance (Dinsmore & Rocha, 2012); Project Management Methodology (Hill, 2009); Project Strategy (Morris & Jamieson, 2004)‍.


Project governance is the framework, i.e. the structures and controls that determine how decisions are made within a project. It defines the roles, responsibilities and accountability of those authorised to make decisions in the project. It will usually be supported by reporting and information dissemination mechanisms, and will be influenced by key project stakeholders (Garland, 2009).

Particularly, effective project governance will ensure that decisions are aligned with business objectives. Garland (2009) offers four principles for effective project governance. They include defining a single-point of accountability for decision making; decision-making authority is given to those best qualified; separating project decision-making from stakeholder management; and lastly separating project governance from organisational governance.

Additionally, organisational politics also plays an essential role in determining a project governance framework (Garland, 2009). It will determine the layers of decision-making, the clarity of authority and accountability, and overall the speed of decision-making.

There are five areas that Agile project governance focuses on:

1) Collaboration - resulting in Good software economics

2) Accountability - resulting in Flexibility

3) Fact-based decision making - resulting in Balanced risk

4) Business alignment - resulting in Change as a competitive advantage

5) Enablement - resulting in Empowered people (Ambler, 2011).

Agile values

The Agile framework is people-centred; based on the idea that when people share a common goal they work best when they share similar values (Fowler & Highsmith, 2001). Decision-making will therefore be influenced by these values.

‍‍The Agile methodology is supported by four core values that enable better team working (Agile Manifesto cited in Fowler & Highsmith, 2001). 1/ the interaction of skilled people should be valued over processes and tools. 2/ the focus should be on delivering the final product and not on detailed documentation. 3/ collaboration with customers should be foremost before contract negotiation. 4/ the focus must be on adapting to change and not following a plan.‍‍

‍‍Governance in the perspective of Scrum values is based on self-determination of the individual and the Scrum team. Scrum values include the commitment to a common goal which helps in reducing conflicts during decision-making (Schwaber & Beedle, 2002). Openness ensures that responsibilities and authority are clearly defined. A Scrum team focuses on one goal at a time instead of pursuing various options that lead to no results. Believing in one's ability and respecting the abilities of other team members improves the management of conflicts, as well as giving the individual the courage to take the necessary actions to meet team commitments.‍‍

Agile principles

Agile values are supported by principles which promote interaction and communication between the team, its members and the customer. It is based on forming a trustful relationship, acknowledging and coordinating capabilities, commitment to meeting customer needs, welcoming change and self-improvement. The ‍12 principles‍ help to define standards and attitudes that the team shares. This defines and binds the team, resulting in effective team working and collaboration with the customer.

Agile principles encourage positive conflicts, facing problems head on, using agile values, principles and practices to prioritise and solve problems, as well as create innovative ideas (MSDN, 2013).

Developing an environment of trust and support is an Agile XP principle that enables motivated teams. It is the Agile ‍principle of governance, i.e. leadership through motivation.

Agile practices

‍Agile practices take a people-centric and dynamic approach to problem solving. Problem solving is an iteration of planning, action, reflection, active collaboration within a self-organising team. Nerur & Balijepally (2007) compare an agile organisation to that of a holographic organisaiton where the full potential of each member is applied in order to achieve the goal of the organisation. Agile includes practices that encourage exchange of roles enabling teams to possess both specialised and generalised skills.‍

This‍ cross-functional approach‍ results in redundancy of skills, however, it also improves the flexibility and responsiveness of an agile organisation to change; a key criteria to survival in a complex world (Nerur & Balijepally, 2007).

The Agile XP practice, the planning game, ensures that decisions are taken by those qualified to make them. In an Agile IT software development project, the development will be responsible for the estimation of time, cost, quality, and functionality of the software application, and not the business department (Poppendieck & Poppendieck, 2003).

The XP (eXtreme Programming) uses Pair Programming approach when writing programs, whereby two programmers exchange roles between writing the code, and strategically planning the coding. This enables cross-functional teams (Poppendieck & Poppendieck, 2003).‍


The Agile Alliance ‍‍who maintain the values, principles and practices of Agile‍‍, described the ‍‍methodology‍‍ as having the capability to respond to uncertainties as opposed to planning ahead (Fowler & Highsmith, ‍‍2001). Sharing common values, principles, and practices will benefit agile teams. The Alliance however encourage diversity in practices, because according to them methodologies should fit the project and the project team. They therefore do not support an all-encompassing methodology; adopt aspects of a methodology that fits the project and drop those that do not. Adaptability and effectiveness is ingrained into Agile governance.

Traditional project methodologies, for example, Waterfall and PRINCE2 are extremely rigid in their control element. Waterfall enforces its development phase at the beginning of the project, with no room for change as the project develops, it also does not allow for phases to move backwards if needed. PRINCE2 controls every element of the project process moving forward with a Project Manager being given tolerances on time and budget, with the project manager requiring a Project Board's authority to go beyond their tolerances. PRINCE2 also does not take into consideration the project teams' moral, it is concerned with the project content only.‍‍

Links from this KA to other KAs

Project Governance links to Collaboration Management (or Partnership Management) in so much as collaboration between team members and the customer are amongst the principles of Agile and can be identified in the Agile Manifesto as a key component to any successful Agile Development process, whether it be IT projects or Business development projects.
Project Governance links to Project Communication Management, this is a key principle in Agile Development Projects; Agile roots itself in its communication openness within the team and especially with the customer. The customer input to the project at every moment of the project development life-cycle ensures the customer receives the product they want.


Agile Manifesto Cited in Fowler, M. & Highsmith, J. (2001) 'The agile manifesto'. Software Development 9(8) pp. 28-35. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 11 February, 2013]

Ambler, S. (2011). Governing Agile Project Teams. PowerPoint slides [IBM Rational]. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 10 February, 2013]

Dinsmore, P. C. & Rocha, L. (2012) Enterprise Project Governance : A Guide to the Successful Management of Projects Across the Organization
University of Hertfordshire Library Information Systems [Online] [Accessed: 01 March, 2013]

Fowler, M. & Highsmith, J. (2001) 'The agile manifesto'. Software Development 9(8) pp. 28-35. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 11 February, 2013]

Garland, R. (2009) Project Governance: A practical guide to effective project decision making. London: Kogan Page‍ University of Hertfordshire Library Information System [Online] [Accessed: 09 February, 2013]

Hill, G. M. (2009) The Complete Project Management Methodology and Toolkit University of Hertfordshire Library Information Systems [Online] [Accessed: 01 March, 2013]

Morris, P. & Jamieson, A. (2004) Translating Corporate Strategy into Project Strategy: Realizing Corporate Strategy Through Project Management Project Management Institute [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 1 March, 2013]

Nerur, S. & Balijepally, V. (2007) 'Theoretical Reflections on Agile Development Methodologies', Communications Of The ACM. 50(3) pp. 79-83. Business Source Complete [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 14 February, 2013]

Poppendieck, M. & Poppendieck, T. (2003). Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit Addison-Wesley Professional. Safari Books [Online]
Available at: [Accessed: 14 February, 2013]

Schwaber, K. & Beedle, M. (2002). Agile Software Development with Scrum. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall Inc

External links the definition of project governance in project management. the type of governance activities involved in different phases. A Lean-Agile Perspective on Project Governance.

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Project Governance (Chinese Version)