PMO, Project Management Office development and Project Management training
Ensuring the right skills and focus of the steering committee is an important activity of many PMOs. The way a steering committee executes its role can have a major impact on the project progress and the overall benefit realisation. All though these two aspects of are vital for project success, the role as steering committee member is often NOT associated with prestige and seen as career-enhancing. For theses reasons many projects and programs end up with a steering committee less capable than the one we could wish for. Perhaps even a crappy steering committee. Below you can see a video (In Danish) with the main characteristics of a crappy steering committee. See translation below as well as ideas of what to do about it.
Mega dårlig styregruppe
For those of you not understanding Danish the headlines are:
No clear scope, deadline, budget. Go fix it, they say
After kick off, it is bye bye
Internal conflicts, own agenda, silo-thinking
Constant scope changes
Too much focus on scope/product details and lack of holistic approach
Not prepared for the steering committee meetings
Lack of follow-up and support during the project life cycle
No formal closure, evaluation and benefit realisation
What to do about it:
For me number 1 is to create awareness of the fact that your steering committee is not functioning as well as you could wish for. Talk to you manager about it. Talk to the steering committee Chairman about it. Suggest an evaluation of the current performance of the committee and collaboration between committee and PM. Be sure as PM to prepare your self very good and do sufficiently lobbying between meetings, in order to get back up and buy-in from important members. As PM be very direct about what you expect from your steering committee. Do not over burden them with pre-readings. Keep it simple and in a "one-pager" format. As PM you must facilitate the decision making process. Put steering committee training on the agenda. Ask for an external review of the meetings and come up with suggestions as to how to improve. Focus on the benefits for the project and the company. Mention benefits in relation to time, money, time-to-market, customer satisfaction etc.
Good luck with your Steering committee work.