A recipe for an effective steering group - Peak Consulting Group




A recipe for an effective steering group – does it exist?  

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‘The project’s steering group’ is a book, which takes the steering group by the hand and guides it towards success, using theory, practice, and recommendations. All projects are different, and this means that the course of a project will always vary. This also means, that there is no recipe for success, but with the book “the project’s steering group”, you are well on your way.  

You do not need a doctorate to know, that those who have skin in the game, are also the most committed. But how do you get the rest of the members to be just as committed to the project? 

In order to do this, you first need to examine the project’s challenges, frameworks and benefits – when this has been done, you can produce your toolbox with roles and responsibilities.  

In that connection, Peak Consulting Group has conducted a study into challenges within steering groups. More than 200 people participated in the study, and 52% of participants were project managers.  

Roles and responsibilities – who is in charge?  

72% of those surveyed demonstrated that one of the challenges many steering groups have, is that steering group members are often uncertain about their individual roles and their authorization to make decisions. This creates conflict and draws out the decision-making process. 

“People would rather not admit that they are having difficulties within their group, but when that box has been opened, people are willing to admit, that they are also experiencing challenges within their organization.” – Henrik Timm, Peak Consulting Group. 

This doubt adds to the steering members’ confusion about, how they should help their project manager; primarily because the roles are unclear, which creates uncertainty about the members’ authority to make decisions.   

The study indicated, that despite businesses and projects being fundamentally different, the steering groups often run into similar challenges.  

When prestige beats desire. 

46% of those surveyed, did not think that they had enough time to take part in the work. This can be a huge problem for projects. A problem which often also arises, due to it being seen as prestigious to be part of a steering group, as many people associate it with power and responsibility, is people agreement to participate, even if they do not have the time.  

They say that they have enough time – most likely because they see it as an opportunity to advance their career – but do they even know if they have enough time? 

Among other things, the study demonstrates that a common challenge for businesses is members not showing up for steering group meetings or making last minute cancelations. An unseriousness and an indicator of a lack of commitment, which influences the steering group. 

What is the ideal size of a good steering group? 

It can be difficult to make decisions, if too many people are responsible for decision-making. 68% of participants believe, that the optimal number of people in a steering group is 3-4 members.  

It is the setup behind that is most important. The decisions made within a steering group, need to be realistic for the people the decisions involve and who are not a part of the steering group, meaning, the members.  

At any given time, a project manager should be able to answer the key question; which people are part of the project group? – and do all my project participants have a leader? – and is it completely clear who is responsible, when conflicts or challenges arise?  

The development and success of the project is highly dependent on the steering group being filled in on everything from the beginning and having clear and precise roles with associated areas of responsibility.  

It can be appropriate to replace some members throughout the different phases of the projects. By doing this, the steering group will always be dependent on knowing the current project status.  

It is true for most projects, that it is advantageous to have an operations manager and a maintenance manager as part of your steering group; someone who can take over the product and is there from start to finish.  

The most important competence is, that you have a complete understanding of the project, not just one part of if, as this contributes to your understanding of the consequences for the project, theses and decisions, which are made within the steering group.  

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Henrik Timm

Henrik Timm

Partner, Business Unit Director

The most engaged are those who have something at stake. Those who can see the purpose and the gain in the long term. Those who have their hands on the stove."

- Henrik Timm, Peak Consulting Group

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