Why and When should you use Project Assurance?
Written By: Georges Cascales.
Even after years of development in Project
Management methods, SDLC methodologies and Project Managers education ... projects still fail.
on IT projects show that
less than 10% of projects are successfully delivered as planned; 30% are total
failures and the remaining 60% run into difficulties and experience major
So what can an organisation as a whole do
about it. Project Assurance helps manage
risk and improves delivery confidence. Project assurance can provide
organisations with the confidence that the project can deliver to time, budget
and quality. In my previous blog on ‘what is project assurance?’ I explain that
the Project Assurance task or function is best undertaken by others within the organisation
or external specialists.
All projects can benefit from independent
challenge. It provides an early warning to stakeholders and gives them the
opportunity to initiate effective and timely corrective actions. Therefore, all
organisations undertaking significant projects (either transformational,
delivering key business outcomes, or significantly complex) should have in place
an effective Project Assurance Framework
or at least engage external
specialists to provide this framework.
A point of caution here, Project Assurance is
not a Project Audit nor does it replace the need for a project to manage
quality to a well-defined Project Quality Plan
. I would also argue that Project
Assurance is not the same as Gateway Review as is currently implemented in many
undertake a Project Assurance review?
Is it a ‘watch dog’ method to
demonstrate and attack poor performance? Is it a big brother approach? Is it a mean to ‘kill’ a project?
If you think ‘yes’ to any of these then you
While Project Assurance can be used for these
purposes, it is not the intent. In my
the following Blogs I will outline how to conduct Project Assurance and provide
some insight on how this can be avoided.
The outcome of
Assurance is to provide the Project Manager, the team and key stakeholders the
best way to achieve a successful outcome.
Project Assurance aims and seeks a win-win approach where the
recommendations not only emphasise what is currently being done well but advises
and promotes what can be done better.
The outcome of a Project Assurance review
could be that a project is stopped, a contract terminated or projects
re-prioritised but this should be done within the context that the team and the
organisation recognise these facts for themselves. The process of Project Assurance must
facilitate discussions that will naturally draw the organisation to these
No project would ever reach such a state
without the Project Team or Key Stakeholders already being aware that something
must be done. The process should force people involved in the Project
Governance to get their ‘head out of the sand’ and address the issues facing
that spiral out of control need project managers with skill, experience, and
resilience to get them back on track. You may develop a hunch that a project is
starting to get out of control
could be due to a number of reasons:
project definition or scope;
level of planning: too high or too detailed;
control of the schedule;
under pressure and overrun;
or wrong level of communication;
solution: technology, business change, data management;
Stakeholders not matched to achieve the desired outcome; etc …
Project Assurance targets those weak areas
and provides all the tools, advice and support to the Project Manager and Key
Stakeholders to bring the project back on track.
The conduct of a Project Assurance review
should also be used as a tool to educate, learn and develop the organisation
and its staff on the delivery of Projects. It is too great an opportunity to be
The implementation of a Project Assurance
Function progressively captures all lessons learnt and feeds this information
to a PMO or a portfolio/Program Manager to improve processes and develop staff.
Next: Project Assurance Framework
"How to identify a failing project,"
by Jason P. Charvat.
Key references for the Gateway Review Process are:
Senior Consultant, Information Professionals
Georges Cascales is a highly
credentialed Manager and Executive, with significant experience in leading IT
based change initiatives, including at CIO level. This includes CIO roles with
Queensland Urban Utilities, Endeavour Energy (prev. Integral Energy) and NSW
Health. Georges is very familiar with
government and corporate change agendas and has been responsible for the
management of business units, the provision of software and technical services,
direct management of multiple and large projects, systems implementation,
change management, the development of IT strategies, and the development of
methodologies and quality processes.
Labels: Assurance, Cost, Delivery, Education, Management, Methodologies, Organisation, Planning, Project, Schedule, SDLC, Specialists, Stakeholders, Watchdog