Assurance: The process of providing confidence to stakeholders that projects, programmes and portfolios will achieve their objectives for beneficial change.
The effective operation of assurance provision and use of assurance information are essential to the reliable delivery of successful projects. Assurance is an essential element of project management, working closely with governance and risk management in a mutual supportive arrangement.
The word ‘assurance’ means different things to different people, though, depending on the field of interest. For some, it’s about achieving quality, for others it’s about being sure what they are told is correct, whilst for many it’s about being confident that ‘things are under control’. The variety of meanings is reflected in the ways of achieving assurance in projects, including: quality assurance, safety audits, gateway reviews, independent engineer reviews, internal audits, project audits, contract audits, external audits, peer reviews, control self- assurance, etc. In addition, different types of assurance require different skills which need to be quantified, enabled and supported in different ways.
All of these types of assurance are actually trying to do the same thing, the only difference between them being the perspective of the practitioner. They need to work in an integrated fashion, to avoid conflicts or gaps, to provide a comprehensive and holistic output. Good project assurance is not only passive. Done well, it actively assists projects to be successful.