What is a Steering Committee? (Overview, Roles, and Responsibilities)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • July 12, 2022
Steering Committee
Reading Time: 2 minutes

A steering committee governs a project from launch to conclusion. The board of directors may create a steering committee from within the organization or seek outside experts to steer them in the right direction. Read on to learn more about a steering committee and its responsibilities.

Responsibilities of a Steering Committee

Depending on the project and organization, steering committees may have different responsibilities, but these are the most common ones for project management committees. 

Provide Advice and Direction

Steering committee members often bring experience or relevant knowledge related to the project at hand. Using that expertise, they provide recommendations to steer the project to success.

Besides providing advice, a steering committee defines the project’s goals and objectives, which provide direction for the project. These goals and objectives should be measurable and trackable, so the steering committee can ensure the project stays on track and adjust course if needed.

Set Project Timeline and Budget

Setting the project timeline allows the steering committee to break the job down into milestones with deadlines. The steering committee also sets and manages the project budget. They chart the project progress, ensuring it stays in line with the predetermined timeline and budget. 

Monitor Project Quality

A steering committee monitors project quality using these three steps:

  • Identify the project’s quality standards, then share them with the stakeholders. This ensures teams understand the project goals and everyone can work together to achieve them.
  • Regularly audit the quality standards. Doing so ensures the project stays on track, and allows for adjusting course if needed. Regular quality audits also ensure the project’s deliverables meet safety standards required by the law. 
  • Track and record results to easily assess performance and recommend necessary changes to drive the project toward the finish line.

Evaluate and Monitor Risk

It takes proactive preparedness for a steering committee to manage unexpected events efficiently and conveniently. 

The following five questions guide steering committees when evaluating and monitoring a project’s risks: 

  • What event might happen that affects your project negatively? 
  • When is the risk likely to happen?
  • What are the chances of the risk occurring? 
  • What outcomes do you expect if the risk occurs? 
  • What can trigger the risk? 

After answering these questions, they should create a plan to tackle each risk identified. 

Define Project Outcomes

Project outcomes are the final results, and should be specific, measurable, and meaningful. Defining the project’s outcome allows organizations to outline a project’s purpose and impact, then ensure it achieves the desired outcomes.

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Drafting a Steering Committee Charter

Before choosing a steering committee, organizations must write a steering committee charter, which clearly defines the mission of committee members and specifies how the committee is organized and how it will operate. 

Charters help committees set clear expectations and minimize conflicts once a project launches. They also ensure steering committees meet their fiduciary duties. 

A committee charter must include: 

  • Mission statement 
  • Committee membership: This section shows the committee’s composition and specifies member terms.
  • Committee roles and responsibilities
  • Committee organizational information: This section outlines the committee’s structure, meeting frequency, and more. 

When preparing a steering committee charter, ensure it clearly outlines each member’s role to avoid confusion. For help formatting, review this sample steering committee charter template from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.