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Welcome to the Winter 2019 edition of the APM Assurance SIG newsletter

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Welcome to the Winter 2019 edition of the APM Assurance SIG newsletter


  1. Chair’s introduction
  2. What has the SIG achieved so far?
  3. What are we currently working on?
  4. Our Assurance conference 2018
  5. Leave your feedback

1. Chair’s introduction

Welcome to the first issue of a new newsletter for the APM Assurance SIG! I hope you find it useful in learning more about the SIG and what we do, what we’ve published, and what we have planned for 2019.

Our intention is to publish these newsletters quarterly.

When we started the APM Assurance SIG in 2008, there was very little published material on assurance in projects, with most of what was available specific to individual areas such as quality and health and safety. There was, for example, almost nothing in the way of guidance on auditing projects, and development of approaches for reviewing projects was at an early stage.

Furthermore, assurance providers tended to exist in their own boxes, with little collaboration between them.

Project assurance was mentioned in places like the APM Body of Knowledge, PRINCE and MSP, but there was a lack of linkage and pointers to more information.

With all this in mind, we defined the SIG’s vision and mission as:

please let us know.

Finally for this introduction, we would very much like you, the wider SIG membership, to give us any views you may have on what the SIG might consider doing. At the end of the newsletter, there is a short survey which we’d be grateful if you would complete, please. There’s a link to the survey online for convenience. All feedback will be reviewed by the APM SIG committee.

2. What has the SIG achieved so far?

Here is a brief overview of the SIG’s outputs since 2008. There are links to where they are on the APM website.

Guide to Project Auditing – 2018
The guide seeks to explain the role of an audit, how it can be planned and undertaken, the degrees of assurance that can be given, and how project audits can be aligned to organisational governance. It is principally intended for use by project auditors in developing an audit approach to review and assurance of projects. However, it is also intended to be of value to anyone involved in the management and administration of projects.

3. What are we currently working on?

Integrated Assurance
We plan to re-establish workstream that developed our 2014 ‘Guide to Integrated Assurance’, with new membership, with a view to refreshing it. Emphasis will be placed on:

  • Overcoming barriers to Integrated Assurance
  • Relationship to Progressive Assurance

Assurance of Agile Projects
This workstream is currently dormant. However, we have been asked to host some seminars based upon our ‘Guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery’, and we are planning to develop some standardised seminar content.

Furthermore, we will seek feedback on the Guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery, and plan for a refresh or additional guidance.

Business Case for Assurance
We are in the process of commissioning through APM some research into the correlation between assurance and project success. A workshop for this was held on 8 January, from which we are expecting firm plans for the workstream to emerge.

Assurance of Business Change
Following some working group activity, and a successful session at our annual conference in 2018, we are reviewing how our current suite of publications could be enhanced to better cover assurance of business change projects.

We are preparing a white paper based upon our collation of views on the relationships between behaviours and successful assurance. Future work on this workstream will depend upon the conclusions reached in the white paper.

During a recent workshop session we got together with a group of volunteers to think about the scope of our research and explore what both good and bad behaviours look like and their associated impacts. A contributor, Joanne Bradshaw subsequently produced our latest blog on the topic, how do behaviours impact project assurance?

4. Our Assurance conference 2018

The annual APM Assurance SIG conference was held this year at the end of November in Birmingham, with a topical conference theme of “Assurance in uncertain times”. A wide range of speakers, from both public and private sectors, gave their insight into how assurance can support in changing political, social and economic times but also how assurance needs to be delivered within a dynamic regulatory and legal framework. The two key messages that came from the day were “how do we prove the value of assurance”, and “how we deliver assurance is as important as the assurance output.”

Our headline conference speaker was Suzanne Newton, Transformation director with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, within the Government’s Cabinet Office.

answers to these questions can be found in the material to support the conference.

Alan Watt, Director of HS2’s internal audit function also provided us with further insight into why major projects invariably stray off track (pardon the pun), and what any assurance function should be looking for in relation to key signals when undertaking reviews.

Mike Ward, an independent management consultant and regular contributor to the activities of the APM SIGs, led an interactive session focusing on the assurance of business change, an area Mike has been considering with a small working party throughout 2018. This allowed the division of the conference audience into small groups to discuss some of the key differences between business and infrastructure delivery and how assurance approaches should be adapted to ensure maximum effectiveness and value is provided to stakeholders. Following a wealth of feedback to Mike through the interactive sessions, Mike will feedback the output to the SIG during the early part of 2019; so keep referencing our website to view this insight.

The afternoon session focused on three engaging presentations, on three areas of current focus within the assurance community:

  1. Assurance measures – presented by Matt Bruce-Kingsmill, Leidos
  2. Assurance of agile – presented by Rachel Saunders and Lisa Sholly Osmond, KPMG
  3. Using data science to support predictive assurance – presented by Adam Suchley, Mudano Ltd.

All of these sessions allowed delegates to gain the latest thinking and add new skills to their personal assurance toolkits. The material for all of these sessions can be found as follows:

Rachel Saunders and Lisa Sholly Osmond’s presentation
Mike Ward’s presentation
Alan Watt’s presentation
Adam Suchley’s presentation

The conference also provided the opportunity for the APM SIG Chair, Roy Millard, to provide insight into the wide range of activities currently underway within the SIG. These range from defining assurance terms and measures, to assurance of agile projects, training and the people aspects of assurance. If you would like further information, or would like to get involved in the activities of the SIG then please get in touch.

All being well, we’ll be holding the Assurance conference 2019 in November!

5. Leave your feedback

Please take a few moments to complete this survey.



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