Steering Committee

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Jun 11, 2024

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You've been tasked with organising a project and making a strategy for it. However, you've just learned that a steering committee will assess the strategy. Alternatively, there's no need to worry if your company doesn't already have a steering committee but you're interested in creating one.

Let's look at what a steering committee is, how it relates to project management, and what it does. You'll also gain knowledge about the various roles held by steering committee members, efficient meeting techniques, and the benefits of using project management software.

What Is a Steering Committee?

A steering committee serves as an advisory board and is charged with overseeing and directing a business, a campaign, or other comparable endeavours. The committee's membership is based on the region it is responsible for supervising and frequently consists of subject matter experts, powerful individuals, and prominent stakeholders.

Establishing the organization's direction, scope, budget, timetable, and procedures is the main goal of a steering committee. These committees meet on a regular basis to examine these issues, assess the situation, and set objectives for the future. To keep the organisation on track with its goals, modifications are made as needed.

Project management software serves as a conduit between initiatives and steering committees to enhance analysis and provide favourable results. ProjectManager is a cloud-based programme that gives real-time dashboards with live data on project KPIs as an example. It is simple to set up and record a variety of factors, including expenses, workload, health, and tasks, providing a thorough picture of the project's development and performance.


Project Steering Committee Definition

A project steering committee performs comparable duties to a general steering committee but is made up of managers who are in charge of managing and assisting a specific project. They concentrate less on daily operations and more on the strategic aspects of the project.

People are picked for a steering committee for a project depending on how invested they are in it. Customers, contractors, or other organisational departments that the project will have a substantial impact on can all be considered stakeholders.

The project manager and their team are in charge of carrying out the project; the steering committee members are not actively involved in that process. Higher-level executives, frequently at the C-level, who might not have in-depth project experience make up the committee. For them to do their jobs effectively, good communication becomes essential.

What Does a Steering Committee Do?

A steering committee's main goal is to give a project direction and guidance, as suggested by its name. A steering committee serves as a tool to make sure a project stays on course and advances in the proper direction, just like guiding an automobile to maintain it on the right road. It is essential for making decisions that will affect many aspects of an organisation, including teamwork and operational procedures.

It is essential to explore the activities of a steering committee in order to have a clearer understanding of its role and obligations. What degree of power does it hold, and how does it manage project governance?

By examining these elements, we may get a clear picture of the function that a steering committee serves.

1. Support the Project

It can be challenging to manage a team, and the difficulty increases when leading cross-functional project teams. The project manager is mostly in charge of supervising the team's daily activities, but there are times when additional assistance is needed, which is when the steering committee comes into action. The steering committee often consists of departmental executives whose teams are actively participating in the project and maybe more influential or have a stronger relationship with them.

2. Make Decisions

We made a quick mention of the steering committee's function in setting project direction and reaching important conclusions. These choices can entail settling disputes or dealing with problems inside the enterprise. But occasionally, choices are made that are outside the purview of a single project. New business models or the management of company processes both need decisions. The steering committee is specially created to handle these choices more effectively because they do not fall under the scope of the project manager.

3. Resolve Issues

Project managers often take charge of resolving problems or overcoming difficulties. They are capable of redistributing resources as necessary and mediating conflicts. There are, however, times when particular problems are too difficult for the project manager and their team to handle on their own. The steering committee gets involved in these situations, supporting the project and being contacted as necessary to efficiently address and resolve these concerns.

4. Approve the Project Budget

The project manager is responsible for generating the budget, working along with specialists and their teams to calculate the amount of money required to complete all tasks within the allotted time frame. The project manager then submits the project budget for final approval to the steering committee. Additionally, the steering committee must approve any budget changes that the project manager proposes to make while the project is still in progress.

5. Get Status Updates

The steering committee must be kept up to date on the project's development in order to properly carry out its duty. They don't have to be conversant with every detail, but they should get regular updates on how things stand. The task of providing the stakeholders in the committee with an update on the project's status is often assigned to the project manager.

6. Encourage the Project Manager

Due to their crucial role in ensuring the project's success, the steering committee and project manager typically maintain tight relationships. As a consequence, the steering committee acts as an important source of support for the project manager, providing inspiration and acting as a sounding board for their ideas and worries.

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Roles on a Steering Committee

Because each person on a steering committee is important and makes a difference to its performance, the efficacy of the group depends on everyone's active engagement. There are a few basic jobs that are commonly included in the majority of steering committees, even if precise duties may vary among steering committees, organisations, and projects.

Business Manager: The responsibilities of this role include managing the project manager and owning the business case. The project is assessed from a business perspective by the business manager, who also determines if the project is cost-effective and whether it is aligned with the organization's goals.

Senior Users: This group on the steering committee represents the project's intended audience or final consumers. They offer insightful advice and help to make sure the project's deliverables properly satisfy the needs and expectations of the users.

Senior Supplier: This position entails supplying the funds, resources, and services required for the accomplishment of the project. The Senior Supplier makes sure that the design, the product's quality, and any applicable standards are followed. They evaluate whether the project can be completed within the projected budget and time frame. An internal stakeholder from the IT department or an outside person might be the Senior Supplier.

How to Run a Steering Committee Meeting

Although a steering committee meeting is different from other meetings in that it has a different specialised purpose, the essential rules for conducting a successful meeting still hold true. Any meeting must have a well-planned agenda in order to make the most use of participants' time and prevent any unwarranted delays.

Similarly to this, it's crucial to maintain equilibrium and refrain from becoming bogged down in the details during steering committee meetings. The project manager is in charge of providing the committee with thorough updates on each work and its timetable since they have a broader perspective on the project than they do. 

The steering committee's job is to help the project manager make decisions that go above and beyond their normal purview by addressing the project's major issues.

It is recommended to designate someone to take thorough meeting notes that include the key points of discussion and any conclusions reached. Before calling the meeting to a close, these notes should be read through by everyone present and officially acknowledged to ensure clarity and prevent any potential future misunderstandings.

Understanding the distinctive personalities of the committee members can help the meeting's facilitators manage and communicate with the group more effectively. A climate at work that is more productive overall is fostered by knowing the individuals you are working with.

How Project Manager Helps Steering Committees

Having the proper tools that can offer current data is crucial whether you are actively participating in a steering committee or responsible for reporting to one. By doing so, you can keep up with changes to the project and make judgements that will ultimately help it succeed. ProjectManager is a powerful work and project management tool that provides a wide range of features specially created to help you manage projects effectively and keep the steering committee informed and involved.

Get Detailed Reports With One Click

Project metrics must be presented to the steering committee in a clear way without becoming bogged down in minute details. With the one-click reporting capabilities provided by our software, you can quickly and easily create project progress reports, portfolio status reports, or more detailed reports that concentrate on parameters like time and expenditures. To present the precise data that is important to the steering committee, the generated reports may be readily customised and filtered. The committee members can also easily share them as PDF files or print them out if they like.

Also Read: How to Build High- performance Team

Share Plans on Interactive Gantt Charts

The steering committee needs access to the project plan even if it attempts to avoid becoming unduly engrossed in minute details. Our programme has a robust Gantt chart function that makes it possible to organise jobs effectively, define relationships, and set milestones. Project variation may be successfully tracked by applying a filter for the critical path and establishing a baseline. Continuous updates on progress are ensured by sharing Gantt charts with the steering committee and the project team. Our software has a roadmap capability that gives steering committees managing several projects a comprehensive picture of the complete portfolio.

Without a doubt, the steering committee and project manager share the same interest in the project's success. Our programme includes task management and resource management tools to help teams work to their maximum potential. Our software, which was designed with collaboration in mind, effortlessly links hybrid teams, facilitating effective file sharing and promoting a highly productive work atmosphere. These teamwork skills will be valued by the steering committee.

With its focus on facilitating smooth cooperation across hybrid teams, regardless of their geographical location, work arrangements, or time zones, ProjectManager is a highly acclaimed software solution for work and project management. The programme guarantees that all team members have access to the most recent information and removes any discrepancies by giving real-time data. Our software enables users to effectively plan, monitor, and measure progress and performance in real-time thanks to its collaborative platform, which serves as its central component.

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The success of a project depends on the project manager's participation in a steering committee. It is suggested to think about enrolling in a PMP (Project Management Professional) course to improve your abilities and broaden your knowledge in project management. You may earn the esteemed PMP certification with the aid of Staragile's top-notch online PMP training course. Enrolling in this thorough course will help you develop the knowledge and understanding you need to thrive at project management and advance your position on the steering committee. Don't pass up the chance to advance your career with a reputable Staragile PMP certification course.

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