Why steering committees are crucial for projects

Why steering committees are crucial for projects

Steering committees help firms guide a body on a project from start to end, but what are they? Diligent has taken a look into the steering committee, what it is, the challenges it faces and the best practices.

In its report, Diligent explains that a steering committee is made of various people, such as board officers, senior stakeholders, experts, executives, department employees and client representatives.

Members of the group meet and collaborate to define, prioritise and control projects, as well as offer guidance to a project manager.

It stated that less than 3% of companies complete all their projects, and the average company exceeds its budget by 27%, and around half of projects budgeted for over $1m fail. 

This is where steering committees help, ensuring projects stay on budget, time and avoid risk. It can identify changes affecting the project’s original scope, analyse the budget and ensure all viewpoints are heard during the project.

The report highlighted many different types of steering committees firms might have, including executive committee, project steering committee, privacy committee, compensation committee and non-profit board committee.

 Diligent continued by stating a steering committee is part of the larger governance structure. Companies that schedule large projects that require interaction across various departments and stakeholders can greatly benefit from a committee to oversee the management.

Some of the challenges it highlighted are finding the right balance between meetings, ensuring everyone is dedicated to the project and not putting their own interests first, effectively managing the varying levels of people and hierarchy and defining everyone’s roles.

Another challenge is the risk of ‘groupthink’ . This is where people feel afraid to express their opinion that varies from the group majority. As a result, they will agree with decisions, despite not liking them.

Diligent went on to outline the best practices for these committees. These include, training new committee members, keeping the group size manageable, setting agendas for meetings and establishing ongoing communication channels.

To learn more about steering committees, read the full report here.

Diligent recently outlined the five elements that make an effective compliance program.

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