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Project Excellence: 10 Governance Principles for Executive Assistants

Effective project governance is crucial for the successful execution of initiatives within an organisation. As an executive assistant striving to be a strategic partner, adopting a set of principles for project governance can enhance your ability to support and contribute to the achievement of organisational goals.

Principle 1: Alignment with Organisational Objectives

  • Principle: Ensure that every project aligns with the overarching goals and objectives of the organisation.

  • Rationale: Projects should contribute directly to the strategic vision of the organisation, and executive assistants play a key role in verifying and maintaining this alignment.

  • Example: An executive assistant ensures that project proposals submitted align with the organisation's strategic goals. They may review project objectives to verify their coherence with the overall mission and vision.

Principle 2: Clear Project Definition and Scope

  • Principle: Collaborate with project stakeholders to define clear project objectives and scope.

  • Rationale: A well-defined project scope helps in avoiding scope creep and ensures that everyone involved has a shared understanding of the project's purpose and boundaries.

  • Example: The executive assistant collaborates with project stakeholders to create a detailed project charter that clearly outlines objectives, scope, deliverables, and constraints.

Principle 3: Stakeholder Engagement and Communication

  • Principle: Foster transparent communication and engagement with project stakeholders.

  • Rationale: Keeping stakeholders informed and engaged ensures a shared understanding of project progress, challenges, and successes, enhancing overall project support.

  • Example: An executive assistant organises regular project status meetings, ensuring that key stakeholders are informed of progress, challenges, and upcoming milestones.

Principle 4: Risk Management and Mitigation

  • Principle: Proactively identify, assess, and manage project risks.

  • Rationale: Executive assistants can support the project team by assisting in risk identification and helping to implement mitigation strategies, thereby minimizing the impact of potential issues.

  • Example: The executive assistant conducts risk assessments, working with project teams to identify potential issues and assisting in the development of mitigation strategies.

Principle 5: Resource Allocation and Optimization

  • Principle: Assist in the effective allocation and optimization of resources for the project.

  • Rationale: Executive assistants can contribute by helping to allocate human, financial, and other resources efficiently, ensuring that the project stays on track and within budget.

  • Example: The executive assistant assists in managing project budgets, tracking expenses, and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently to support project success.

Principle 6: Monitoring and Reporting

  • Principle: Implement robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms for project progress.

  • Rationale: Regular monitoring allows for early identification of issues, enabling timely adjustments and preventing potential project derailment.

  • Example: An executive assistant establishes a system for regular project monitoring, compiling progress reports and key performance indicators to keep stakeholders informed.

Principle 7: Compliance and Governance Adherence

  • Principle: Ensure that the project adheres to organisational policies, regulations, and governance frameworks.

  • Rationale: Executive assistants can play a role in promoting compliance and governance, safeguarding the organisation's reputation and minimizing legal and regulatory risks.

  • Example: The executive assistant ensures that project activities align with relevant regulations and organisational governance frameworks, minimizing legal and compliance risks.

Principle 8: Continuous Improvement and Lessons Learned

  • Principle: Facilitate a culture of continuous improvement and learning from project experiences.

  • Rationale: Projects provide valuable insights, and executive assistants can support the implementation of lessons learned to enhance future project outcomes.

  • Example: After each project stage completion, the executive assistant facilitates a session to gather feedback and lessons learned, contributing to the development of best practices for future stages.

Principle 9: Flexibility and Adaptability

  • Principle: Embrace flexibility and adaptability in response to changing circumstances.

  • Rationale: Projects are dynamic, and being adaptable allows the organisation to respond effectively to unexpected challenges and opportunities.

  • Example: In response to unexpected changes in project scope, the executive assistant works with the project team to adjust timelines, resources, and communication plans accordingly.

Principle 10: Post-Implementation Review

  • Principle: Support the conduct of a comprehensive post-implementation review.

  • Rationale: Executive assistants can assist in evaluating the success of the project against its objectives and identifying areas for improvement in future initiatives.

  • Example: The executive assistant coordinates a post-implementation review, gathering input from project stakeholders to assess the project's success and identify areas for improvement in future endeavours.

On your journey to become a recognised strategic partner to your executive(s), those you support and your wider team these 10 project governance principles can serve as your guiding compass, transforming your role from a facilitator to a proactive contributor in achieving organisational goals.

By adopting and understanding these principles, you can become a trusted link between the project team and broader organisational strategy. This strategic alignment empowers you to contribute proactively, ensuring that projects are not only well-planned but also adaptable to the changing needs of the organisation.

About the Author:

Richard Arnott, BA, FInatAM, FIToL, is the Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, and the author and lead presenter of the groundbreaking, globally recognised Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® program.

Please connect with Richard on Linkedin and please also join our LinkedIn group, "The Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA®," to connect with a community of forward-thinking executive assistants committed to career growth and development

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