At PMO Learning, we run specialist courses alongside the certification-based ones (such as the Essentials, P3O, and MoP for example). These are the courses where we go deep into the areas where PMO practitioners spend a lot of their time – and they also tend to be the most challenging areas.
Assurance is one of those. Assurance is all about “assuring” that projects, programmes and portfolios are delivering what they set out to deliver – and being delivered correctly.
The two-day Assurance for PMO Professionals course is popular with all levels of PMO practitioners – and those working in all the different types of PMOs. It’s popular because, let’s face it, there is limited training focused on this area, specifically for PMO practitioners and their work. And it’s a really important project, programme and portfolio management area!
Let’s find out what this course delivers for the people that attend it:
- Be able to ensure the principles of good Assurance are met in all Assurance activities
- Learn how to establish and maintain effective independence
- Be able to conduct effective project reviews in a consistent way
- Learn how to flex Assurance approaches dependent on the delivery method
- Find an approach to consolidating Assurance reporting
- Be able to advise on the design and implementation of effective project, programme and portfolio (P3) Assurance arrangements.
- Provide Assurance that avoids duplications and omissions and provides confidence to all stakeholders cost-effectively and at the right time.
- And be reliably deployed in any P3 Assurance role within a PMO.
PMO practitioners should be able to support the organisation, delivery managers, teams and stakeholders by providing services on the necessary assurance activities.
In this article, we will focus on the first takeaway for learners of the Assurance for PMO Professionals, ‘assurance activities’.
What do we mean by assurance activities?
Assurance activities in projects, programmes, and portfolios refer to the processes and activities which provide confidence and assurance regarding the management, governance, and delivery of initiatives. These activities are conducted to assess and verify the effectiveness, compliance, and overall health of projects, programmes, or portfolios.
Assurance activities typically involve independent reviews, assessments, audits, and evaluations. They aim to identify risks, evaluate controls, measure performance, and ensure alignment with organisational objectives and standards.
Common assurance activities include:
- Independent project or programme reviews: These involve objective assessments of project or programme progress, performance, and adherence to plans, milestones, and standards. Independent reviewers analyse project documentation, conduct interviews, and provide recommendations for improvement. The PMO is often the main provider of this service in the organisation.
- Quality assurance: This activity evaluates the quality of project deliverables, processes, and outcomes. It ensures compliance with established standards, methodologies, and best practices and identifies areas for improvement to enhance overall quality. Again, it is often the PMO who provides this quality assurance service.
- Risk management reviews: Assurance activities in risk management involve assessing the effectiveness of risk identification, analysis, and mitigation strategies. Independent reviews help identify potential risks, evaluate risk management processes, and ensure appropriate controls are in place. The PMO, often alongside a risk expert, ensures these reviews are carried out.
- Compliance audits: These activities verify compliance with relevant regulations, policies, and contractual obligations. Compliance audits assess whether projects, programmes, or portfolios adhere to legal requirements, industry standards, and internal policies. This tends to be an external auditor or reviewer with the PMO offering support for the projects, programmes and portfolios through the process.
In the Assurance for PMO Professionals course, you will start with the basics of what assurance is – what the principles are, what good assurance looks like and how, as a PMO professional, you can start to build your knowledge and understanding of them in relation to your organisation.
In the next article, we take a look at project reviews and what the role is for PMO professionals.