Welcome to the winter 2020 edition of the APM Assurance SIG newsletter

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Welcome to the winter 2020 edition of the APM Assurance SIG newsletter


  1. Chair’s introduction
  2. Assurance conference 2019, ‘The value of assurance’, November 2019
  3. Outreach activities
  4. Workstream progress
  5. Dates and future events
  6. Contact us

1. Chair’s introduction

Welcome to the winter 2019-20 issue of our ‘quarterly’ newsletter.

The highlight of this quarter’s newsletter is the assurance conference we held in November of last year. There’s a fuller report on this below, but as well as thanking again here speakers and workshop leads, I would also like to thank all the delegates for working so hard. The choice of theme ‘the value of assurance’, resulted in some excellent engagement, and lots of output from the three workshops. It all showed just how much the topic is at the forefront of people’s minds, and just how broad the topic actually is. We, and I hope the delegates, took away really useful insights into how assurance adds value to projects, and how to get the best value from assurance. We’re already planning the 2020 assurance conference. Look out for more information, soon. We hope to update details in the next newsletter.

Actually, ‘the value of assurance’ theme is beginning to be one for much of what we are working on in the APM Assurance SIG. We submitted our business plan for 2020-21 in the autumn, and have had confirmation of APM’s support for that, including another Assurance Conference in 2020 – more news on that later. Be it refreshes of our Guide to Project Auditing and Measures for Assuring Projects toolkit; working with APM to commission research on the topic; or responding to a recent resurgence in interest in Integrated Assurance; maximising value is a consistent element.

Looking forward to the next quarter, we will be speaking at three events; starting our planning of Assurance SIG conference 2020; continuing our work on refreshing the Guide to Project Auditing and Measures for Assuring Projects Toolkit; and working with APM on commissioning some assurance research.

2. Assurance conference 2019, ‘The value of assurance’, November 2019

Continuing our ‘outreach’ policy of holding events outside of London, in Birmingham last year, this year’s conference took place in Nottingham.
There were three excellent presentations in the morning, followed by three workshop sessions in the afternoon.

The morning sessions were:

  • ‘The Value of Assurance’ – The Network Rail Perspective, by Toby Robins, Network Rail
  • ‘Value Adding Assurance’ – The Lloyds Perspective, by Mark Palmer, Lloyds Banking Group
  • ‘Improving Delivery Confidence’ – The Value of Assurance in Supporting Good Governance, Lisa Kelvey, KPMG

And the thee workshop sessions were:

  • ‘Value of Assurance’, led by Cate Smith and Prof Mike Bourne
  • ‘Selling assurance to key stakeholders/auditees’, led by Dave Lovitt and Peter de Horsey
  • ‘Digital assurance’ – additional value through use of digital tools, led by Mark Palmer

We should shortly have the three presentation, and write-ups from the workshops, available online.

The conference demonstrated how multi-faceted the subject of value in assurance is. For those providing assurance, it is all about getting the best value from assurance activities; it is clear that in optimising assurance the use of data and artificial intelligence will have a big role to play in the future. For those receiving assurance, is about ensuring that the assurance they receive is of real value, and that it is the right type, and available at the right time.

One question that came up, as it often does, is how much should be spent on assurance. Lisa helped answer that in her presentation, by giving some examples based upon KPMG experience. Unfortunately, the spread of spend varies so much that it is difficult to draw any conclusions. See the ‘Value of Assurance’ Workstream below.

3. Outreach activities

APM are establishing a project team for 2020 SIG conferences. The APM Assurance SIG representative in this team is Chris Mellard, who will work with APM to plan and organise our assurance conference this year, for which we will be sharing a venue with the APM Knowledge SIG.

Future events a little closer to now are:

Our business plan takes into account the plans outlined in our outreach plan. These were reviewed and developed into a task plan at a special committee meeting on Tuesday 4 February.

4. Workstream progress


A Guide to Project Auditing

Our workstream to refresh the A Guide to Project Auditing  and setting up a user group scope is now firmly established, with four-weekly progress meetings being held.

We have got a small but perfectly formed working group for this, which has recently been strengthened further with representation from the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors membership.

Just as a reminder, the refresh will also embrace a look at what needs to be added to our current guide to cover programmes as well as projects.

At this stage, there is strong overlap with the Measures for Assuring Project toolkit workstream. The two workstreams are now working together to develop a common set of project criteria to review/audit against. The workstreams have until now had two slightly different sets of ten criteria.

Measures for Assuring Projects (MfAP)

We have now held two workshops in our refresh project. The first, mentioned in the last newsletter, established the scope of the workstream; the second, held on Tuesday 14 January, took a big step towards aligning the toolkit criteria with those used in the Guide to Project Auditing (cf joint work with Project Auditing workstream mentioned above).

A third workshop is to be arranged for sometime in February or March, to start considering what criteria should be included in a tookit for programmes.

Integrated Assurance

I haven’t included much in these newsletters about work on Integrated Assurance as, although we are planning to refresh our ‘Guide to Integrated Assurance’, there is no activity on this at present.

However, it seems that there has been a recent resurgence of interest in Integrated Assurance. So, we may need to put some more effort into this.

The Value of Assurance, previously Business Case for Assurance

The success of our assurance conference in November, and particularly the workshops in the afternoon, reinforced the need for research into the question of how we can demonstrate what value assurance brings to a project in terms of improving chances of success. It was very useful having Professor Mike Bourne of Cranfield University facilitating for us at the conference. Mike is a leading academic in project management and lead on the ‘Assurance, reviews, reporting and governance and their connections to effective decision making’ theme of the government sponsored Project X research programme, the report from which has been recently published by APM.

APM is shortly to start taking submissions to their research fund for such research, which will be open until Monday 27 April 2020. The APM Assurance SIG plans to play an active role in this research, and I am sure we will able to use its output to inform our work.

Another strand to the topic of the value of assurance that was strong at the Assurance conference 2019, and indeed the 2018 one, was the use of data and AI in assurance to get the maximum value from it. This is something that the APM Assurance SIG will be developing plans around in due course, as AI has the potential to revolutionise project assurance in the future. We have made an approach for possible involvement in some research on the future impact of data on project management being carried out at Southampton University.

5. Dates & future events

6. Contact us

If any of the above has piqued your interest, or you have any other question/comment/suggestion about the APM Assurance SIG, you can contact the SIG committee.


Roy Millard
APM Assurance SIG Chair


Posted on 14th Feb 2020
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