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Program Governance Mechanisms
In my last assignment, I was part of a program review committee where
my role was to evaluate the management and governance approach being
proposed by the vendor. It was a turnkey initiative to combine multiple
entities of the government department in order to remove the duplication
of eorts, unify shared services under excellence centers, and improve
organizational eciency. e program had a ve-year timeline. However,
while reviewing the governance approach, the program had four stage
gate reviews. A ve-year program and only four stage gate reviews?
Upon inquiry, the vendor responded that it had used a similar approach
in an earlier project. e earlier project had a nine-month timeline and a
singular focus on technology implementation. e approach did not make
sense to me nor to my committee members, thus we recommended major
changes in this governance mechanism. e new approach included stage
gate reviews at major deliverables, monthly health checks, and strategy
reviews. Finally, major reviews at the end of every quarter were incorpo-
rated. ere was an agreement that the governance approach would be
revisited at the end of the quarter and would be adjusted based on the
program context.
Based on my experience and guidance and learning from mentors, I
divide program governance mechanisms broadly based on two themes:
1. Planned or on-demand events
2. General review or specialized reviews
e following sections dene governance mechanisms that are employed
by organizations around the world, with dierent congurations, to eec-
tively execute governance functions discussed in previous chapters.
150 • Program Governance
STRATEGIC REVIEWS
One of the core aspects of governance is to keep the program aligned
with the organizational strategy from formulation to closure. us, stra-
tegic alignment becomes a key area which requires specic focus and
may require a separate forum for review. Strategic review sessions ensure
that the program maintains a connection to the organizational strategy
throughout its life cycle.
Hanford (2005) mentions that organizational strategy is not something
static as it keeps on evolving based on multiple internal and external fac-
tors. Strategic review sessions provide the platform which maintains a
constant communication channel with the organizational strategy. is
link ensures that the program makes the adjustments required to keep
itself aligned with the larger organizational context.
is mechanism should be put in place from the program’s formulation
phase and should be executed throughout the program’s life cycle. e
focus of these sessions diers based on the program life cycle stage. Gate
review 0, “Ongoing Strategic Assessment,” which is one of the six gate
reviews proposed by the Oce of Government Commerce (OGC), focuses
on the strategic alignment of the programs and component projects with
the organizational strategy (Hanford 2005; OGC 2007).
During the formulation and organization stage, the sessions focus on
ensuring that the program performs an initial alignment with the orga-
nizational strategy and claries its goals and objective. Multiple sessions
may have to be performed as the clarity can only be achieved through
iterative discussions. e input from the program team can also act as a
factor that inuences the organizational strategy. e main objective of
this session is to ensure that the program plans consider the organizations
business strategy as a core input. Hanford (2005) states that the session
carried out at this stage can have the following outcomes:
1. Program goals and strategy
2. Program capital and expenses budget
3. Program benets denition
4. Program outline
5. Candidate projects identication
6. Program mobilization plan
7. Consulting and stang agreements

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