A guide to Organizational Project Governance

Organizational Project Governance is a term often used interchangeably with Enterprise Project Management (EPM). Our interpretation of the term is somewhat larger than what is usually meant by EPM.

  • How to govern initiatives in any kind of organization, not just enterprises. The term govern is used in a way that means to manage, to steer, and to control not just the individual initiatives, but the total portfolio and the actual processes. In this context we include continuous improvements of all processes needed to govern the initiatives.
  • Ensuring that the governing is performed in such a way that the organization will focus on the initiatives most valuable to the organization, that the realization of the initiatives is achieved in an efficient way, and that the organization will actually get the benefits as outlined in the business case.

To achieve the above, the organization will need to establish a framework for handling the initiatives. This will be done by formulating a policy for this framework, for the guiding principles and for the actual processes.  Furthermore the organization must ensure that it has the necessary facilitators or enablers in place, and is able to measure the effectiveness of the policy, guidelines, processes and the enablers themselves.

An initiative is anything that the organization either needs to do or wants to do. It may come about in order to develop a new or modified product, to respond to a customer request, to develop new markets, to reduce costs or to achieve a goal or strategic choice. The initiative may be small or big; urgent or for a longer term purpose.

If the initiative is of a certain size, complexity, or if it warrants a certain attention then it may be defined as a project, or even a program containing several individual projects.

In the term Organizational Project Management, all initiatives including projects and programs are arranged in the form of a portfolio. Organizational Project Management (OPM) and Organizational Project Governance (OPG) are more inclusive than the term project suggests, as they include all aspects of projects and programs from an organizational point of view.

Open Project Governance

OPG, as defined above, includes several parts:

  • An overall policy and guidance for how an organization should govern its initiatives.
  • A model for how to govern its portfolio(s) of projects, programs and other initiatives. This model includes details on how initiatives should be selected, prioritized and balanced against each other, and how to authorize initiatives to use resources in the organization.
  • A model for how to govern individual programs and their constituent projects.
  • A model for how to govern the individual projects, which may be parts of a program or standalone projects.

In this total framework the parts above form a whole, which must function as a whole. The framework and individual models as outlined here are such a whole. But that does not mean that parts could not be broken off and used separately, or that another model could not act as a substitute, for example the Project Management Model.

On the contrary, we see our framework and models as open. They are open for anyone to use, for anyone to modify according to their individual needs, and for anyone to share their changes and modifications. The acronym OPG could in this respect also stand for Open Project Governance.

To facilitate this we have developed a portal, OPGport, where the framework, models, processes, templates and checklists are available for use. Most of the portal is open and free for anyone to use. The OPGport also makes it possible to share modifications and additions.

The term ‘open’ has thus far been used mostly for software, where the software is free to be used by anyone without any license agreements or proprietary rights. The software can be used as is, or modified in any way the user wants. The modifications and new additions are shared with the community.

In the same way we believe that models for portfolio, program and project management should be open. Most organizations of any size need a comprehensive governance model for their initiatives. They either develop it on their own or buy a model (or method) from an outside vendor. At the same time most models/methods look similar and all must be adapted to the organization. Why not an open model that anyone can use and modify?


OPGport is the web site for Open Project Governance, integrating governance with the models for portfolio, program and project management. The OPGport will give you all the models, including templates, for free. It will also exhibit the other open characteristics: contribution and amendments from the community.

Welcome to OPGport.

Published by Kjell Rodenstedt, 2010-05-09


Patrick Weaver, 2011-02-09:

EPM is software and process focused; at best EPM generates useful data.  Governance is ethics based. It is about making the right decisions and then following through to deliver on the decisions (which is where EPM systems are useful).

Project governance is a sub-set of organisational governance, for a brief overview see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1033_Governance.pdf  - you are definitely right in taking the wider perspective‚Ķ. Keep up the good work!!

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