Project Assurance

Project Assurance

Do you really understand how your projects are performing? A second opinion on that critical project may be the difference between early success and the worst of all scenarios, a late failure.

Projects frequently fail by stealth, with problems accumulating over time and gradually eroding the business case initially developed. All too often, the realisation that a project is in trouble sets in too late to take effective action, and the business finds itself committed to funding unplanned work, fire-fighting unanticipated risks and struggling to cope with an overwhelming pace of requirements change.

Project Performance Consulting Ltd can provide Project Assurance consultancy to help ensure that projects avoid these problems and deliver their expected benefits to the business.

Project Assurance involves the assessment of a Project's processes, procedures and management to provide an independent view of the effectiveness of the work being carried out, and of its likelihood to lead to benefits being delivered as planned to the business. The work  involves research of a project, inspection and evaluation of its products and procedures and thus close liaison with the project team.

There are fundamentally three interests involved in a project. In the case of a a business carrying out projects for internal purposes, these three interests may be seen as

  • the Business itself, providing funding and sponsorship of the requirement
  • the Users, in this case operational departments who will use the new systems and for whom the specific requirements are relevant
  • the project and development teams, together with their subcontractors, for whom the processes and procedures being employed will have a bearing on the success of the projects.

The role of Project Assurance is to evaluate the project taking a viewpoint appropriate to these three interested parties, and to ask the question 'Is this project being organised, controlled and implemented in a way which reduces the risks to its successful delivery ?'. To answer this question, the role of the project assurance consultant can be quite wide ranging, with some of the areas of interest described below.

For project assurance work to be successful, the consultant must adopt a collaborative style and be seen as a helpful member of the project team, rather than an unwelcome intrusion into the daily routine of project management.

 

Project Assurance coverage

Project Initiation and Ongoing Planning

Project initiation is a crucial step in the project lifecycle, during which the foundations are laid for a successful project. The assurance consultant would be involved in the assessment of project plans, quality plans and risk response planning to ensure that these were being effectively produced and that the correct people were involved in their production. During the project, the consultant would look for evidence that unplanned work was taking place, leading to increased risk or pressure on project budgets.

Project Risk

It is likely that the consultant would be involved in risk workshops during the initiation phase of a project, providing, perhaps, facilitation of these workshops and establishing effective risk response plans. During the lifetime of the project, the assurance consultant would be interested in how effectively the risks were being reduced or eliminated, and that risk owners were actively involved in risk reduction.

Project Monitoring and Control

The assurance consultant would be most interested in how the planes are being monitored, the assessment of progress against these plans, and the mechanisms for cost collection and control. An important role for the assurance consultant would be to make an independent assessment of progress and evaluate the likelihood of variance from the project plan, using an Earned Value Analysis approach to provide an objective view of the state of the project.

Requirements Management

The consultant would be interested in how well the User Requirements for the project were being managed, that volatility of requirements was being kept to the minimum, and that projects were responding to change with rigorous procedures designed to reduce the risk of uncontrolled change.

Configuration Management

The consultant would look for evidence that configuration management is effective, and closely linked with change control and authorisation mechanisms designed to prevent unauthorised change.

Quality

The assurance consultant would be interested in how closely the work of the project team is designed to meet the quality criteria set out and agreed at the beginning of the project, and how well the quality processes and procedures being deployed were contributing to future process improvement and organisational learning for future projects. In this respect, the assurance consultant would be looking for metrics and lessons learned to be collected, evaluated and disseminated.

Subcontractor Management

Depending on the degree of access possible, the consultant would be interested in how  well subcontractors are performing, and look for evidence of unreported risks, misreported progress and so on likely to impact the Business's projects.

Reporting

Following a review of a project, the consultant would produce a report providing an independent view of a project and any recommendations for improvement. This report would cover:

  • Plans
  • Risks
  • Quality
  • Costs
  • Schedule
  • Recommendations

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