Driving Effective PLM Governance across Stakeholder Groups
Independently of the delivery model, it is important to define a robust governance in order to manage business expectations, escalate and address key issues and risks, review budgets and progress towards objectives. Technical elements will require the relevant degree of expertise, especially around solution design, integration and data migration.
Based on the selected implementation methodology, e.g. waterfall, agile / scrum or other, different workstream meetings and delivery reviews will also take place from an operational point of view; these contribute to guiding and directing how to progress towards given delivery goals and actions.
In this post, I highlight the typical governance forums required to ensure regular effective multi-stakeholder engagement, as well as technical forums to ensure that the solution is fit-for-purpose and delivered in an effective manner across the relevant stakeholder groups.
Beyond ongoing stakeholder analysis, any business change initiative or PLM project will require a number of governance forums to report on progress, seek the required direction and help to unblock conflicts and related issues.
As defined by the Project Management Institute (the PMBOK fifth edition, 2013), project governance refers to an “oversight function that is aligned with the organization's governance model and encompasses the project life cycle.”
Typical PLM delivery governance include the following (or similar) forums across stakeholder groups:
The steering committee involves senior stakeholders, typically on a monthly basis, from business owners to change leads who make key top-down decisions based on priorities, budget and commercial requirements, strategy changes, business implications, etc.
The operational committee focuses on weekly or fortnight delivery review, scope alignment, business communication approvals, milestone and deliverable sign-off; this is also a first escalation point for risks and issues.
The technical committee or “design authority” is a technical forum led by the solution architect to ensure that the solution aligns across all process, functional, technical and system requirements; this forum is important to ensure the PLM solution is not over-customized, leveraging purchased capabilities, assessing gaps and technical risks, signing off technical decisions and potential business implications.
The change board can take multiple forms: either from a business change and / or financial implication perspective; tracking business benefits and signing off potential cost implications from both technical and business decisions. This forum can involve by finance and the relevant business owners to confirm budget changes or deviations; should they be related or not to a formal project change request.
These formal forums can be run across projects and workstream based on the project scope and the wider stakeholder engagement. Based on the agenda, some of these forums require the involvement of system integrators or implementation partners, as well as software vendors.
PLM initiatives often require engaging external parties to deliver solutions elements or manage the end-to-end solution. As soon as external / third parties are involved, it is critical to engage procurement or commercial teams to align on expectations, further certain negotiations, and seek for feedback or opportunities for improvement.
Based on the scope and size of the project, executive governance with suppliers can foster ongoing alignment and commitment in delivering value to the business. This is an essential practice to ensure mutual understanding and to ensure that the relevant stakeholder maintain “skin in the game” based on their commercial engagement.
Business transformation governance
Improving operations requires ongoing strategic alignment and continuous improvement across functions (including supporting functions).
Linking PLM delivery governance to other business governance is essential to foster effective communication, validate assumptions and strategic alignment. This can help identify new priorities and adjust planning input with the relevant stakeholders. Existing business governance contribute to reaching out to the wider business, capturing early feedback beyond key stakeholders and the project eco-system.
Effective governance often drives effective delivery, clear visibility, open and transparent behaviors and conflict resolution within the project framework.