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In project management, a steering committee is a governing body that is responsible for the business elements of the project while also offering guidance on issues pertaining to policy, objectives, resource allocation and expenditure. It comprises high-level executives and stakeholders with a fundamental interest in the project’s outcome. To learn more about steering committees and what they do, keep reading.
Steering Committee: The Basics
There are two fundamental principles on which a steering committee operates: to provide strategic direction, and to support the project manager. Basically, the committee sets the direction for the project and is responsible for making critical decisions. Thus, this facilitates the project management’s team job in carrying out the day-to-day project activities to fulfil the project’s goals and objectives.
Project managers are often burdened with an excessive amount of work. Among other things, they must plan, execute and close the project, all while ensuring it meets the goals and objectives outlines in the original scope. Thankfully, project managers can receive help from the steering committee. The committee will work closely with the project manager, helping him or her by addressing concerns, approving changes and more.
Steering Committee Tasks
So, what does a steering committee do exactly ? While tasks vary depending on the project’s specifications, a typical steering committee may perform the following tasks:
- Provide guidance to the project manager and team members
- Allocate funds for specific tasks associated with the project
- Take responsibility of the project’s outcome
- Refine the project’s scope so it meets the stakeholders’ objectives
- Consider positive and negative risks, including how those risks will affect the project
- Resolve conflicts between team members
- Conduct meetings on the project’s progress
Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by steering committees is the allocation of resources and assets. Far too many projects go over budget, which can lead to serious headache for stakeholders. In an effort to keep the project’s budget on track, the steering committee will help allocate resources for various tasks. The project manager may also have authority over resource allocation, though the steering committee typically has the final say.
Additionally, the steering committing will conduct regular meetings throughout the project’s development cycle. The frequency and nature of these meetings will vary. Usually, however, they will occur frequent enough so that the progress can be reported to the stakeholders.
To recap, a steering committee is a group of high-level executives and stakeholders who provide guidance to the project manager and team members.