Project governance is neither a fun nor a simple concept to implement. Some organizations do this very well and have elaborate, multi-level, processes that ensure proper vetting, prioritization, oversight and funding. Other organizations have little-to-no governance and do everything by the seat of their pants with varying levels of success. Most IT professionals will tell you that some level of governance is necessary and those same professionals will be happy to share at least one (or perhaps many) examples of a time where the governance process ground their project to a halt for no viable reason.
I am one of those that believe some level of governance is needed for successful project implementation and have developed a short-form Project Initiation and Project Closure document that I have found useful when organizations do not have (or do not want) a full-scale governance process.
Project Initiation Document – A two-page template that lays out the very basics of the project: details, team members, objectives, success metrics, scope, and a signature block. The template does not include assumptions, risks and mitigation plans, project plans, or resource plans. It is assumed that those are being handled in other forms or may not be deemed necessary.
Project Closure Document – A two-page template that lays out the same basics as the Project Initiation Document but adds options to identify if objectives and success metrics have been met by the project.
No project documentation should be used as a club to beat a colleague or client over the head with (although some project managers do just that) but, rather, should signify a meeting of the minds and an agreement on how to define and measure the success or failure of a project. Neither should project governance be viewed as red tape that adds no value to the operations of an organization.