Steering-Committee-Product-Owners

What is a Steering Committee? A Technologists View

JAN, 2023

by Andrew Walker.

 

Author Andrew Walker

Andrew Walker is a software architect with 10+ years of experience. Andrew is passionate about his craft, and he loves using his skills to design enterprise solutions for Enov8, in the areas of IT Environments, Release & Data Management.

 

 

 

Are you a Product Owner or Technologist looking to understand the role of a steering committee and how it can benefit your organization? This article provides a technologists view on what a steering committee is and how it can be used to help guide decisionmaking. You will learn about the purpose of a steering committee, its composition, and the responsibilities of its members. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how a steering committee can help your organization achieve its goals.

 

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What is a Steering Committee?

A steering committee is a group of experts, authority figures and senior stakeholders in a project or organization who are part of IT or other governance. This committee meets periodically to discuss the direction, scope, budget, timeliness, and methods of the project, helping to set the strategic direction and ensure that it is followed. As members have a significant stake in how the project is managed, the decisions made by the steering committee are important for the success of the project and in aligning the project manager and project goals.

Who Is on a Steering Committee

The makeup of a steering committee depends on the scope of the project or product, but generally it consists of senior executives, external stakeholders, and experts. For example, a project steering committee may include a project manager and external stakeholders from the customer, while an organizational steering committee could include executives, board members, and department heads.

Regardless of the particular makeup of the steering committee, a few guidelines should be followed. Most importantly, there should be a chairperson elected by the committee who does not own the project they are steering. This allows for impartial chairing. Additionally, the steering committee should be composed of diverse members who each equally represent the various functions overseen by the committee. This encourages open discussion and the sharing of different opinions and ideas.

Clear goals and a well-managed agenda are also essential for the committee to function properly. By following these guidelines, steering committees can ensure their goals are met and the project is successful.

What Is the Steering Committees Role

The role of a steering committee is to offer strategic guidance, promote collaboration, and assist in the decision-making process. By providing clear direction and support to project managers, they ensure that projects remain on track and meet company objectives. They also act as a mediator between stakeholders and project managers, ensuring that all perspectives are taken into account when making decisions. Ultimately, the steering committee is responsible for ensuring that the organization’s projects are successful and in line with its overall goals.

Are Steering Committees only for Business Decision?

Steering committees are not only for business decisions, and they can be highly beneficial from a technology perspective as well. A steering committee can provide a comprehensive approach to technology development and implementation, involving key stakeholders from different departments to ensure that the technology aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives.

As an example, organizations may include: Steering Committee as part of the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

How Steering Meetings & PLMs may FIt Together:

Steering committee meetings may be included as part of product lifecycle management, particularly during development and launch phases. These meetings provide guidance to ensure that the product aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives, mitigate risks associated with technology implementation and maximize the potential value of the product. During development, they can provide direction on progress and decisions. During launch, they can advise on marketing and distribution strategies and monitor performance. In short, steering committee meetings are a valuable tool for product teams during development and launch to help ensure the successful release of the product.

From a Technology angle, What are the Benefits of a Steering Committee?

From a product or technology perspective, including:

  1. Strategic Alignment: Members of the steering may help ensure that the product or technology is aligned with the organization’s overall strategy, business objectives and goals. By bringing together key stakeholders from different departments, a steering committee can provide a comprehensive perspective on the product’s or technology’s potential impact and how it aligns with the organization’s objectives.
  2. Risk Mitigation: A steering committee can also help mitigate risks by identifying potential roadblocks or challenges that may arise during the product’s or technology’s development or implementation. By anticipating and addressing these issues early on, the steering committee can minimize the risk of delays or setbacks.
  3. Decision-Making: A steering committee can help make critical decisions regarding the product’s or technology’s development, including resource allocation, project budget, and timeline. By having a cross-functional team of experts provide input, the committee can ensure that decisions are well-informed and align with the organization’s goals.
  4. Communication: The project steering committees can act as a communication channel between the development team and the broader organization, ensuring that everyone is on the same page regarding the product’s or technology’s progress, project deliverables, milestones, and goals.
  5. Value Creation: Finally, a steering committee can help maximize the value created by the product or technology by ensuring that it aligns with customer needs and expectations. By involving key stakeholders in the development process, the committee can ensure that the final product or technology meets or exceeds customer expectations, resulting in greater value creation for the organization.

How can Technology & Product Teams prepare for a Successful Steering Committee Meeting?

To ensure a successful steering committee meeting, it is important for technology and product teams to prepare thoroughly. Here are several tips on how those involved in the project can get ready:

  1. Define the purpose of the meeting: Before the meeting, the technology and product teams should clarify the objective of the meeting and the topics that will be discussed. This will help them prepare relevant information and data to present to the committee.
  2. Share the Vision: Technology and product teams should clearly articulate the vision for the project and how it will benefit the organization. They should also explain how the project fits into the overall value stream of the organization. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands why this project is important.
  3. Provide progress updates: Technology and product teams should provide the steering committee with regular progress updates on the project’s status. This includes information on milestones achieved, project quality, any setbacks, and any changes in timelines, budget, or scope.
  4. Identify and prepare for key decisions: The technology and product teams should anticipate any key decisions that need to be made during the steering committee meeting and prepare a thorough presentation that covers all the relevant information and options available.
  5. Provide data-driven insights: The technology and product teams should provide data-driven insights and analytics to support their proposals or recommendations. This will help the steering committee make well-informed decisions based on accurate data. Tip* ‘Enterprise Inteligence’ Tools like Enov8’s IT Environment Manager & Release Manager can provide powerful insights for these kind of occasions.
  6. Prepare for Q&A: The steering committee members may have questions, concerns or recommendations, so the technology and product teams should be prepared to answer them. They should also be prepared to address any potential issues or risks that may arise.

Overall, preparing for an IT steering committee requires a collaborative effort from technology and product teams. By ensuring that they are well-prepared, they can deliver key information the steering committee oversees, present progress updates, key decisions, data-driven insights, and address concerns or recommendations, which will help the The steering committee members make informed decisions and provide direction for the project.

Steering Committee Meetings – Wrapping it Up

Steering Committees are an essential part of any project, and they play a key role in the successful development of products or technologies. By providing input from multiple stakeholders, ensuring alignment with organizational goals, acting as a communication channel between teams and the broader organization, and ensuring that customer needs are met, steering committees can help maximize value creation while also keeping projects on track.

Technology and product teams should ensure that they are well-prepared for steering committee meetings, so that they can present accurate data and insights to support their proposals and address any concerns or recommendations from the steering committee members. With proper preparations, IT steering committees can help organization achieve their technological goals in a timely manner.

Other Reading

Enjoy what you read? Here are a few more articles that you might find interesting.

Enov8 Blog: Enterprise Intelligence

Enov8 Blog: Writing a Business Case for the Steering Commitee

Enov8 Blog: The Role of RAG Status in Technology Leadership

 

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