Abstract: An effective project governance framework enables the project stakeholders to take the right actions to guide a project to success, and an efficient governance framework does so elegantly by a minimum number of actions necessary for the project success. Project governance provides direction in identifying the critical elements for project success and with techniques to measure its progress. There are several standards and tools available for the management of IT projects, yet there is an increase in the number of projects failing to attain the objective, deadline and budget. Complexities and uncertainties have increased in IT projects with the need to achieve innovation and the need for using emergent technologies. This situation makes it difficult for project proponents to assure project governance approaches for success. This article first analyses IT project life cycle activities and various reported IT project successes and failures. Then the systems thinking approach is applied to synthesise factors that can lead to failure at each stage of a project lifecycle. This information is then mapped to a complex system governance model to identify the order in which activities should be performed to obtain optimal results irrespective of the nature of the project.