An Introduction to Project Assurance and the PMO

Let’s assume you know nothing about Assurance.

For many PMO professionals, we often struggle to fully understand what assurance actually is, what it looks like within the context of the PMO and the projects it supports, how to recognise when it is being done properly and even who needs it!

What is Assurance?

Simply put, the purpose of assurance is to provide stakeholders with confidence that projects, programmes and portfolios will be able to achieve their objectives within the desired scope of time, cost and quality.

Successful assurance demonstrates that resources are being utilised effectively, and that project benefits are being appropriately recognised. Assurance is much more than just reviews; it’s about everything that happens in and around a project to ensure risks are properly managed and that good decisions are made.

Why do we Need Assurance?

The Association for Project Management (APM)’s A Guide to Integrated Assurance (2014, p. 9) outlines ten areas in a project organisation which assurance can increase the likelihood of success:

  1. Client and scope
  2. Risks and opportunities
  3. Planning and scheduling
  4. Organisational capability and culture
  5. Supply chain
  6. Solution
  7. Finance
  8. Social responsibility and sustainability
  9. Performance
  10. Governance

Effective assurance can help manage risks throughout the project lifecycle, aid in financial management, measure the performance of a project against its baseline requirements and align the interests and strategic direction of sponsors and stakeholders.

Who Needs Assurance?

Assurance is essentials for those responsible for the delegation of work to other people – whether that be an individual, a team, or even a third party. Assurance customers are then able to feedback to sponsors and key stakeholders that the work is being completed to the desired standard.

Within the PMO, your role in assurance could vary – perhaps you may be responsible for producing the reporting, or communicating with stakeholders. You may be in charge of internal audit, or quality management – all vital for ensuring that projects, programmes and portfolios can be delivered successfully.

It’s crucial that PMO practitioners understand how assurance works in their organisation; what is expected of them in supporting assurance activities; and often advising others within the organisation about the different assurance tasks required.

Where Can I Learn More About Assurance?

At PMO Learning, our brand new Assurance for PMO Professionals specialist course describes how you, as a PMO professional, fit into the project assurance landscape, and how you can help ensure that project assurance is effective and efficient.

This two-day course teaches delegates how to ensure the principles of good assurance are met in all assurance activity, including establishing and maintaining effective independence, how to conduct different types of project reviews effectively and at the right time and how to advise on the design and implementation of the effective portfolio, programme and project assurance arrangements.

You can find out more about the course here!

References used:

APM Assurance Specific Interest Group (2014) A Guide to Integrated Assurance. 

Watch the Webinar about the Assurance for PMO Professionals Course

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