How to create excellent Programme Governance?

Suppose you have a vision of the target situation, you know the main benefits that you want to realize and you have  appointed a change team to prepare and accompany the change. The next important step is to design and install the governance that is needed for this change.

What is Programme Governance actually?

The programme governance is really nothing more and nothing less than the way in which you steer and control the change. You might think: there might not always be the need to design a separate governance? Good thinking! If the change at hand can be steered and controlled with current people, means and related meetings, than no extras are needed. But before you conclude this, I suggest you try to answer a few key questions and then see how to act upon that.

Two key questions for designing Programme Governance

The first essential question is of course:

1) What interests are to be expected during the programme?
This is about interests to expect that support or counter the programme or relate on side issues.

The next key question is:

2) How to weigh those interests in designing the governance of the programme?

The advantage of these two questions is that they help you to point out the essentials needed. The disadvantage is that they seem to be kind of abstract. That’s why I will help you with some practical questions that are related to designing your needed programme governance.

Create your governance by answering these practical questions

These questions will help you to analyse the interests and their relative position in order to design the governance needed for your programme:

  1. Who (persons/groups) have an interest in the implementation of the change?
    Obviously there is the client or senior responsible owner you are going to work for, but you might also think of those who get promoted or gain influence during the change process.
  2. Who (persons/groups) have other interests?
    You might think of other initiatives that compete with the programme on human resources, budget and time to spend. Let’s also keep in mind the possible influence of the programme on the jobs related. If diminishing of functions is related to the programme that is something to attend to!
  3. Are interests concentrated or spread?
    Not every programme needs the same type of steering and control. For instance a single change in VAT might affect lots of stakeholders if this change needs to be implemented in different systems of different stakeholders. If the architecture of the ICT allows you to change the VAT in one system only, the governance can be very simple.
  4. Which influences are to be taken account for?
     A future vision can be quickly outdated if developments in financial performance give reason to adjust. There is nothing wrong in re-balancing and adjusting ambitions. It might be a good idea to take into account that these events might happen and periodically evaluate the programme to other ambitions.
  5. Which risks and chances are to be expected?
    As of day one it is essential to account for risks and chances related to the programme. Of course pointing out the owners of those risks & chances and the measurements needed in the event they take place is also necessary.
  6. How to assess the deliverables and outcome of the programme?
    This point is obviously related to Benefit Management. It is always important to connect all benefits to owners who are responsible for deciding on acceptance of deliverables. To make this a controlled process it is of course necessary that they define their acceptance criteria at the first phase of the programme.
  7. How to assess the way of working in the programme?
    Assessments after the fact need criteria before action takes place. Then several solutions are possible. Most of the time it is wise to appoint an owner on quality assurance who has the possibility to report directly to the senior responsible owner of the programme.
  8. How many meetings to organize?
    In general the less meetings and the shorter, the better. A set of periodically scheduled meetings might be smart in organisations where otherwise decisions might delay for too long. Just skip them if there is no need to meet. Weekly informal meetings or calls in which every work stream owner updates the others are usually  a good idea. This also helps to find solutions within the team and diminishes the decisions to make at stakeholder/steering group level.
  9. How does the decision process work in case of an emergency?
    This is a good question for programme managers to ask the senior responsible owner and align with him/her. Still it is even better if there is no need to ask this question because the given guidelines are already clear on this subject.
  10. How to define and implement the steering role of the programme?
    This key question is of course related to the hiring of the programme manager and his/her support functions. Also it is needed to make explicit the expectations on role behavior for programme manager, senior responsible owner and other stakeholders.
  11. How to act on interests or issues when important stakeholders are absent?
    In some cases waiting on the people involved is certainly not the best option. It might be a good idea to address this issue while designing the governance.

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We could ask you lots of different things, but in essence there is only one crucial question to ask:

What is your idea?

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About us is a Dutch company founded by Tom Oudman & Marcel Otto, who both have a long career in implementing changes.
We are a network organisation of passionate change agents!


Because we:

  • love to improve and get better results,
  • believe that change is about sharing visions and setting goals together,
  • love to connect with you through change,
  • have experienced that the path of change always gives new insights and sharpens our minds,
  • believe that change is about listening to people whom we concern and by listening our road of change gets better all the time,
  • believe that changing is what we have to do for a better future for all of us!

We help with small and large and/or complex changes depending on the need of our clients. Whether it is about Interim Management, Business Processes & ICT, Finance, ERP, Merging/Demerging, HR and/or culture. We love to act with a small team that helps to orchestrate the change: preparing, supporting, implementing, optimizing and evaluating in such a way that the change sticks. We only guide changes with respect to all involved. That helps us to really make the change where it is needed: in the minds & hearts of all involved!
In a world that changes so rapidly, adjusting quickly and being flexible is key. So let’s dream & inspire, create visions, set targets and combine this with just doing what is needed in order to make it stick.
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