Can you benchmark assurance?

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Yes you can, based on the experiences of the APM Assurance Specific Interest Group (SIG) and its guide Measures for Assuring Projects. The guide was first issued in 2016 and has been widely read and referenced. Now is the time to build on that success and refresh the guidance to make it even more useful to assurance practitioner and project professionals.

A review of the Measures guide based on the experience of users, as well as recent developments, has revealed that the document is a very effective tool for projects, but expansion is required to provide clarity and deeper guidance in the matter of programmes.

The refresh is also intended to further cement the alignment between the guidance provide by the SIG in the matter of assurance and audit.

An additional part of the guidance is proposing an alignment with the government’s five dimensions for projects – strategic, economic, commercial, financial, and management. For the criteria we have mapped the following terms:

  • Strategic = Client and scope
  • Economic = Solution
  • Commercial = Supply chain
  • Financial = Finance
  • Management = All the other criteria, from health and safety to governance, stakeholder management and communications.

These criteria are core to the guide’s content – but following a further review, we have identified seven main improvements. We would welcome your thoughts on these and how they align with your own experiences and your organisation’s approach.

A. Health and safety, social responsibility and sustainability as a criteria has been elevated to the first item of the list, with health and safety along with the project’s social and environmental impact recognised as being paramount, particularly in a high-hazard environment
B. Benefit management has been identified as part of Client and scope
C. Stakeholder management and communication has been separated from the criteria Management (and governance)
D. Commercial arrangements has been highlighted as part of the criteria Supply chain
E. Impact evaluation has been highlighted as part of the criteria Solution
F. The Finance criteria has been refined to focus on accounting, affordability and funding.

And for the record here are the proposed list of criteria from the Measures for Assuring Projects document.

  1. Health and safety, social responsibility and sustainability – managing the impact of project delivery on the social, physical, ecological and economic environment.
  2. Client and scope – clear and controlled baseline requirements, objectives, success criteria, business case, terms of reference, contracts, benefits management and realisation.
  3. Governance, the processes to align the interests and strategic direction of sponsors and stakeholders.
  4. Stakeholder management and communication – stakeholders affected by the project have been identified and are appropriately involved.
  5. Risks and opportunities – management of risk and opportunity through the life cycle of the project.
  6. Planning and scheduling – appropriately detailed execution strategies, plans and schedules.
  7. Organisational capability and culture – people, behaviours, teams, processes, systems and the working environment.
  8. Supply chain – commercial arrangements, procurement processes, engagement with, and capability of, both the internal and external supply chain.
  9. Solution – the deliverables and outcomes that meet the client requirements. This includes product and/or service quality and the impact evaluation of the finished product or service on the social, physical and economic environment.
  10. Finance – accounting, affordability and funding.
  11. Performance – measuring all facets of performance against the baseline requirements, variance analysis and management action.

Please share your views with the APM Assurance SIG by emailing  Also, let us know if you would like to get involved in the refresh of the assurance document.

You may also be interested in
Tim’s article on How you can benefit from SCORE investment analysis, available from the APM Hub


Image: Jirsak/Shutterstock

Tim Podesta

Posted by Tim Podesta on 10th Jun 2020

About the Author

Tim is a subject matter expert in project management and business/investment analysis, front end planning and bench-marking; he has deep experience of the oil, gas and petrochemicals industry. He celebrated 35 years with BP this year and completed his career, and is now an independent consultant.

Tim has a track record of delivering cross cultural programmes in change management and process improvement. In his last role with BP I led the back office for a major global corporate programme in the matter of safe and reliable operations which made significant improvements to operating performance across the group.

Tim is an experienced facilitator of live events and can work in English and French. He has strengths in facilitation and building rapport in multi-cultural environments using accomplished language skills.


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