Member of a Steering Committee: Do you know your Role in the Project?

by Karel Hoster - Instructor at Global Knowledge

As a member of a Steering Committee, how do you see the relationship between you and the project? Does steering the project take too much time and effort? What are the returns of your projects? As a member of the Steering Committee, how do you retain control over the project without losing control over your everyday job? How do you make sure the end product of the project actually provides a contribution to business goals?

These are just some of the questions that need answers when thinking about the busy work activities facing managers and directors. Line managers are often fully occupied with the demands of everyday management of a department or organization. Little time remains to properly supervise projects. As a result, your Project Manager is unwittingly assigned responsibilities that should actually remain under your own control. For example, you should not be in favor of the Project Manager deciding whether a project continues if schedules and budgets are exceeded, or that he or she is the one who sets quality demands for the project. This situation could lead to a conflict of interest.

What is the purpose of a Steering Committee?

The most important task for the Steering Committee of a project is to play a role in initiating, alerting and adjusting the project to its goals. In other words, the Steering Committee provides guidelines and steers the project. After every phase of the project, the Steering Committee should verify that project results are satisfactory, goals are still valid, project risks are acceptable...in short, make sure the project is still viable.

How do you take responsibility for a project without wasting time?

PRINCE2 is a Project Management method based on Global Best Practices. If applied correctly, it has proven successful in many different projects. Thousands of participants attend PRINCE2 Foundation courses every year, and generally complete them with certifications.

I have taught many PRINCE2 courses in the past years. Only occasionally was one of my students member of a Steering Committee - which is a pity!  PRINCE2 offers a number of tools for Steering Committee members. Tools which ensure the ability to retain maximum grip on a project while spending a minimum of time doing so.

After participating in the course, students know exactly which of the various tasks, responsibilities and authorities (TRA) are assigned to each of the stakeholders in a project:

  • Steering Committee provides guidance for the project
  • Project Manager manages the project
  • Team Manager delivers the target products

I believe problems often occur in projects when Steering Committee members are not fully aware of their tasks and responsibilities. No wonder things land on the plate of the Project Manager that do not belong there. It goes without saying that this confusion also has a negative effect on the success rates of projects.

By studying Project Management, you will come to understand what is expected of a member of the Steering Committee, and also know when it is not part of the role to spend time on a matter.

Not enough time to take a course

I can well imagine that a manager is unable to free up two days to attend a PRINCE2 Foundation course. Perhaps you should consider an abbreviated program? Together with you, we can set up a workshop program customized to your needs to explain how to best implement PRINCE2 for the Steering Committee members at your organization.

The benefits of this initiative reappear in the course of every project:

  • Successful completion of projects, delivering concrete returns for your organization
  • Reduced levels of frustration for everybody involved with the project
  • Efficient time management for Steering Committee members

As a Steering Committee member, you naturally want to retain a grip on the project and its results.

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