Six ingredients for successful capital programme governance

  • Laura Bridges
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Six ingredients for successful capital programme governance

In a fiscally constrained landscape, Local Authorities are having to make increasingly tough decisions about their medium and long-term financial strategies and determine where they prioritise funding to maximise their return on spending to deliver the best outcomes.   

31ten has provided support to a number of Local Authorities who have sought our expertise to transform the management and governance of their capital programmes. Drawing from our extensive experience, we have identified six key factors to ensure efficient, and effective capital programme governance. 

01: Strategic alignment should be at the forefront of decision-making

Best practice indicates that the capital programme should be used as a tool to deliver overarching corporate objectives. The appropriate governance mechanisms should be put in place to clearly evidence how strategic investment decisions support the realisation of specific corporate objectives. This is a critical step to conduct early in the bidding process and should be at the forefront of decision-making throughout the capital programme ecosystem. 

02: Accountability should be documented and enforced

A governance framework should be established whereby roles and responsibilities are mutually agreed upon and clearly defined to support effective decision-making and provide assurances over the delivery of the capital programme. Owners should be assigned to hold responsibility for securing approval of projects through the bidding process, effective monitoring and ensuring completion / benefit realisation of projects.  

03: Data-driven decision-making: A single source of truth 

A common pitfall is the continued use of non-standard, manual data collection and collation, particularly in relation to capital monitoring of spend. There should be a single source of truth for data, to be used to underpin decision-making. Data collection and reporting processes should be standardised and centralised to support the capital monitoring process, and facilitate transparency, oversight, and visibility across the capital programme. Accurate and centralised data can further be utilised to run scenario analysis when considering the impact of external factors, enabling agile decision-making and optimisation of spend. 

 It can be beneficial to create a Capital Programme Model for this purpose, that automates data collation and enables scenario analysis using up-to-date information. Such models must be well aligned to the wider capital programme governance and processes to ensure stakeholders use them effectively to drive valuable outputs. 

04: Project Management Office (PMO) should be used as a tool to govern the capital programme 

A dedicated PMO function should act as an enabler to govern the capital programme. Examples of key roles for the PMO include quality assurance, standardising processes, monitoring performance, supporting the bidding and prioritisation processes, capturing and escalating risks, and enabling key governance forums.

05: Long term capital need should be captured and used to support decision-making 

A well-managed capital programme is forward-thinking and proactive in nature. Long-term capital need, linked to service delivery and corporate priorities, should be captured and refreshed on an annual basis to support decision-making processes and prevent unnecessary expenditure on overlapping or conflicting projects. Capturing longer-term capital need will enable effective decision-making within the context of longer-term spend requirements.  

06: Culture of constructive challenge 

Good capital programme governance should have provisions in place to enable scrutiny and challenge in a constructive manner. Governance should be streamlined to enable sufficient time and focus on strategic ‘doing the right things’ and operational matters ‘doing things right’.   

There should be a centralised forum that has oversight of the capital programme as a whole and adequate resources available to provide robustness, enforce accountability, and support decision-making processes. Lessons learnt should be captured and shared throughout the organisation to foster continuous improvement.

Governance of a capital programme ultimately requires tailoring to each individual organisation, to reflect its maturity and the scale of investment decisions it will be taking.  31ten can help you review your existing capital programme governance and processes and provide guidance and recommendations to support you to transform your capital programme and optimise future spend. To find out more, please get in touch with Laura via

Additionally, if you need a single source of truth for your capital programme, 31ten can assist in developing a Capital Programme Model that brings together all of your capital programme data.       To find out more, please get in touch with Rob via