Project and Programme Assurance SIG blog launched

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In the past, we have attempted to keep SIG members up to date on what we are doing through occasional newsletter emails, but with our growing popularity the SIG felt we needed to adopt a more open and flexible method. Hence the Project and Programme Assurance SIG blog was born.

The SIG's launch event in 2007 quickly sold out, demonstrating just how popular the topic of assurance is, and the level of demand from project professionals to know how to do it better. Since then weve defined our vision, mission and aims, kicked off and been running a number of work streams, and held four conferences.

I wont repeat our vision and mission here, however, I will say something about our aims:

Firstly, we want to promote current best practice in portfolio, programme and project assurance, so that organisations can better tackle some of the misunderstandings, conflicts and inefficiencies that typically exist when there are a number of different assurance providers operating. We know that within large portfolios, and indeed with individual large and complex programmes and projects, overcoming complex assurance challenges can be daunting.

Secondly, there is plenty of opportunity for assurance practitioners and customers of assurance to learn from each other. Those working in assurance have a tendency to be a bit protectionist, though, and not given to working collaboratively with those in other assurance functions. This is often for good reasons, for example maintaining clear independence, but it militates against finding ways of working more efficiently. We aim to bring together practitioners and customers, for them to share experiences and points of view, and discuss better ways of working.

Thirdly, we want to drive the development of best practice, ensuring that it is seen as an essential element of good project, programme and portfolio management (PPPM), just like planning and risk management. Assurance is often mentioned in PPPM literature and training materials but without much substance to it. We want to raise its profile, establishing in the minds of all those involved in projects the essential role assurance plays in making sure the right projects are done right. Assurance doesnt just happen; it needs good and active management.

Well do all of this by acting as a focus for assurance within the APM, developing and publishing best practice guidance, holding conferences, writing articles, providing input to training syllabuses, and establishing a one-stop-shop on the APM website for information on all things assurance related.

OK, all this is very aspirational. So, what have we actually done so far, and what are we doing now?
The work of the SIG is organised as a programme of work stream projects, with the core management team (or committee) acting as a programme board. Weve got the following five work streams up and running:

  • Assurance definitions (coming up with a consistent set of definitions of assurance-related terms)
  • Project auditing (producing guidance on how to efficiently and effectively audit projects)
  • Measures for assuring projects (developing methods for generating assurance without intrusive reviews)
  • Integrated assurance (producing guidance for organisations wanting to achieve a more coordinated and collaborative assurance regime)
  • Establishing a Knowledgebase (implementing a one-stop-shop for assurance-related information)
  • Over the next week or so, our programme manager, Naveed Sheikh, will add to this blog to describe each of these work streams and what they are aiming to achieve.

Hopefully this has given you some idea of why the SIG was set up, what we are aiming to achieve, what we are actually doing, and our plans for the future. If you would like to get involved in any of these activities, you would be most welcome, and I would ask you to contact one of people listed under Committee on the SIG web page. The SIGs are only as successful as the volunteer workforce is able to make them. We need lots of enthusiastic members. If that is you, please let us know!

One final point for me to mention is our Assuring successful delivery of the portfolio one-day conference that we will be holding jointly with the Portfolio Management SIG on 9th February.

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Posted by Roy Millard on 31st Jan 2011

About the Author

I am responsible for the planning and delivery of all internal audits of project and programme management within Transport for London. I joined TfL Internal Audit in September 2002, and have 27 years of experience of engineering projects in PPP, PFI, partnering, joint venture, consortia and conventional contracting environments, as project engineer, risk manager, project manager and internal audit manager. In particular, I had lead roles within Racal on major defence projects such Bowman and IRIS, and as a senior manager within Thales on the Connect project for London Underground. I have an Honours degree and a post-graduate Diploma in Management Studies; am a Fellow of the APM and a full member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology; sit on the APM Audit & Performance Review Committee; have the APMP qualification and am PRINCE2 and MSP qualified at Practitioner level; and am the founder and Chairman of the Project & Programme Assurance Specific Interest Group.

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