Corporate governance is often a complex system that functions based on organizational structure and typically includes several levels of management that help to oversee the development and completion of projects. 

In the high-paced corporate world, steering committees are often a group of executives or top-level management that helps to oversee the start and completion of projects. These individuals will guide and motivate project managers, and their teams through difficult processes, providing insight, while also creating vision and direction for the overall company. 

Steering committees may often exist solely for the basis of project management or helping to develop new products and services for the company, which they can present in the broader marketplace. Although these committees make executive decisions behind the scenes, they often play a vital role in the direction where the company is growing towards. 

What Does a Steering Committee Do

Not all steering committees will consist of the same type of management or executives, but in most instances, these individuals will either be directly tied to the company or have some form of affiliation. 

Often these steering committees are formed entirely by the personnel or staff of a company but can also consist of more top-level management, such as executives, or shareholders. These individuals represent the company, its key operations, research and development, and above all, the growth of the company. 

Steering committees help to develop and implement a new project scope, which can include products or even services offered by the company. On this basis, the steering committee will then help to deliver insight and guidance for project managers which will then filter through to middle and junior-level employees. 

Steering Committee Examples

Though steering committee members will often collaborate on project scope, examples of these groups include individuals with a high level of insight and knowledge related to a certain industry or sector and help provide guidance based on company and project goals. 

On top of this, these committees assign delicate project-specific tasks, to help monitor risk, and ensure the quality of the completed work. In most cases, a steering committee will have a predetermined timeline or date of completion for certain projects and will monitor the progress as the project develops. 

If a project falls behind schedule or is over budget, the steering committee will then make executive decisions to help reschedule competition or lower expenditures.

Steering Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Seeing as these committees can consist of an array of individuals, each person will hold a different level of responsibility and will lead a certain role within their respective capacity. 

Although these roles and responsibilities may not look similar from the outside, when digging inward, we see that there are some similarities and that the committee will share the same roles to help advance the progress of a project. 

What Is the Role of a Steering Committee

Project Support

As already mentioned, a big part of what the steering committee does is to provide project support, either through the aid of a project manager or direct communication with employees working on the project. 

Project support is crucial, and without it, project development will be elongated or often go uncompleted. With the help of a steering committee, both teams and project leaders may have untapped access to a wealth of knowledge and information related to the industry, the work they’re doing, and the target audience. 

Decision Making

A hard task for some project leaders who are working in a fast-paced environment, decision-making is often an important secondary element of what a steering committee does. 

Instead of leaving crucial decisions to mid and junior-level staffers, a steering committee will make decisions based on available information and projected forward-looking guidance. 

These decisions will include any risks they may encounter and will help monitor a project’s progress. 

Resolve issues

Problems are a given when starting a new project, and on a corporate level, these issues may be more challenging and complex to resolve without proper insight. Having a steering committee as part of corporate governance enables the organization and any other staff involved in the project to function without experiencing delays in the project timeline. 

Project Budget

Projects that run over budget may sometimes be seen as less successful, as it means that resources have been over or underutilized. Having expert individuals plan and implement a project budget allows project manager to know exactly how to allocate resources and where more focus needs to be given to ensure development and completion meet organizational quality. 

Receive status updates

As a project, which may either be a product or service, enters the consumer marketplace, the steering committee will monitor client reaction and provide analytical status updates on whether a project has been received positively or with some remorse. There are many instances where a product or service is not up to the standard of the committee, which will then lead to employees having to change and update any of the previous work they have completed. 

Project manager Encouragement

Another important role and responsibility are to help encourage project leaders. Often these individuals will help to lead a team of employees that work on several tasks at once. Ensuring that a project manager is motivated, informed, and well-encouraged will help to boost marketplace acceptance and quality assurance. 

Check Out What Is a Steering Committee [Purpose and Roles Explained]:

How to Run a Steering Committee Meeting

Each company will run a steering committee meeting differently, but although these differences exist, there is still a certain industry standard that is typically followed by many organizations. 

  • Plan and implement an agenda: Usually, an agenda will help guide the meeting and cover the most important points of the meeting
  • Cover the most important elements: Making sure that meetings are not entirely useless means that steering committee meetings will only cover the most important aspects of the project. 
  • Have a recap session: A recap session helps to ensure that all members or individuals are informed and know exactly what the meeting was about. 
  • Keep communication between parties: Once the meeting has adjourned, all members, including shareholders and project managers, will need to be properly informed about the outcomes of the meeting. 

How Often Should the Committee Meet?

Depending on the length of the project, which can be anything from a few weeks to several months to more than a year, a steering committee meeting can be held quarterly, or every other week, depending on how much time there is planned for the project team. 

Preparing Your Next Steering Committee Meeting

When preparing for your next steering committee meeting, make sure that all members are well-informed about the core elements of the meeting and what will be covered throughout. Secondly, taking notes and sending a recap email once the meeting has been completed is important. Additionally, all members and individuals included in the meeting must come prepared with questions or answers, depending on why the meeting is being held. 

Steering Committee vs Board of Directors

Steering committee members are usually individuals who are industry experts and leaders in their field who are appointed to assist and guide a project team. While the board of directors consists of people who actively participated in starting and creating the business. 

Steering Committee vs Advisory Committee

Members of an advisory committee will typically be appointed by the director of the company, while members of a steering committee are selected by several individuals, including staff and executives. Depending on the size of the company, a research office will usually select steering members to help the director make decisions related to company and project needs.


How Many Members Does a Steering Committee Have?

It’s not common for a steering committee to have more than twenty members at a time. 

What Do You Discuss in Steering Committee?

Members of the steering committee will usually discuss work related to the project manager and how they can improve their efforts to help drive more meaningful results. 

What Should Be Included in a Steering Committee Meeting?

Depending on how large the steering committee is, and what insight they deliver on a project team, it’s important that the committee focus on the course of direction, actionable results, completion date of the project, and financial aspects of the project such as the budget. 

What Should You Avoid in Steering Committee?

Instead of the steering committee only focusing on one aspect or factor of the meeting, they must work through problems at a reasonable pace before heading to the next challenge. This could for example be focusing on consumer expectations or consumer experience and resolving any issues related to the topic.

Final Thoughts

Although not many people will often encounter the work done by steering committees, these individuals play a crucial role in the success and progress of projects that often impact the organization. These committees drive insight and are industry leaders that help develop actionable plans to ensure growth and further development of project management, employees, and the company. 

Sabine Ghali

Kelly Murphy


Certified Meeting planner with 20+ years of event management experience, founder of ConferenceSource, expert in meeting facility sourcing & contracting in North America, Europe, South America and Asia. Kelly will manage your budget as if they were her own, negotiating the best possible rate and hotel contract to benefit and protect every client and exceed all expectations for all planning aspects for sales meetings, educational meetings, product launches, incentive trips down to a small board of directors meeting. We make meetings easy understanding your meeting objectives and delivering meeting matched components.