Assurance Trends and Themes for Successful Programmes and Projects

Whitepapers | 06 November 2014

Let’s take a look at the 4 Assurance Trends and Themes to set your Programmes and Projects up for Success.

What is Assurance?

Assurance provides an independent and objective view of how programme / project delivery is set up to deliver overall success, and can generally be undertaken in one of three ways:

START OF DELIVERY:  Set Up For Success

Assesses overall approach, stakeholder engagement, key risks, and governance structures to ensure that the correct fundamentals (as they apply to this unique initiative) are in place from the outset


Facilitates early identification of issues, and provides actionable feedback, thus enhancing overall delivery efficiency and effectiveness towards business objectives.

AFTER DELIVERY:  Post Implementation Review

Assesses whether objectives were met, captures success and learnings, and provides actionable feedback for future initiatives with common attributes or approaches

While Post Implementation Reviews in their own right serve a valuable purpose in capturing successes and lessons learnt, undertaking assurance activities only at the end of a programme or project has limited value to the initiative at hand. Early assurance provides timely capture of successes and lessons learnt, inclusion of recommendation into the current initiative, AND potentially benefiting other similar programmes and projects as early as possible.


1)       Sponsor engagement, and appropriate matching of sponsor style to the initiative at hand, remains a critical success factor regardless of industry or business / technology focus.

Consider: Is your Sponsor the person with most ‘skin in the game’, and is your Sponsor the person best suited to that role on this initiative?

2)       Delivery complexity is often underestimated, with low estimates and limited budget / contingency compared to the eventual effort and budget required to deliver. A desire to maintain scheduled delivery dates exacerbates this pressure on complexity, and often results in a compromise on quality.

Consider: How well does the approach match the level of complexity? And is time and budget contingency available if the situation changes?

3)       Stakeholder transition is an important consideration in multi-year programmes and projects. People are promoted, restructures happen, and people take extended leave. The impact of this disruption can be mitigated by detailed resource and succession planning.

Consider: Who are your key stakeholders, and do you have a succession plan for them if they move?

4)       Quality of testing is difficult to plan for and to execute. Test strategies sometimes do not reflect the complexity of the solution. The ability to test the solution is often compromised by the lack of integrated, robust and production-like test environments.

Consider: How well do your test environments support all projects in your portfolio?


1)       We have observed that more and more organisations are not just talking about other delivery models, they are now also exploring ways to make this happen, and therefore determine the approach that best suits the organisation. A number of organisations are undertaking ‘iterative’ or ‘Agile’ delivery in environments that have been traditionally ‘waterfall’. Different approaches have been taken to manage the potential culture clash between these delivery models, and organisations are still learning the best way for these models to co-exist.

2)       There is recognition that co-location of teams is important, but that it is not always practical with organisations spanning buildings and cities, and with many programmes and projects requiring vendor and/or offshore teams. This has led to a preference for at least a ‘partial co-location’ model according to priority and risk. Organisational inertia often makes any easy co-location difficult, but the benefits of even a partial co-location make this worth overcoming.

3)       There is increasing reliance on vendors to deliver complex and / or significant proportions of the overall solution. This places even more importance on the need to define and manage the vendor engagement appropriately – from vendor selection, to contract management, relationship management, and status reporting, then all the way through to Business As Usual transition.

4)       Different requirements, products or business attributes are leading to multiple business solutions being designed and implemented within single projects and programmes. This is different to the traditional project model which assumes a single business solution against a single set of requirements. This approach requires clear definition of boundaries between solutions, but also clear understanding of touch points between solutions and the ability to test across solutions if necessary.


While there are a number of recurring themes and trends in programme and project delivery, every situation is unique.

Some key questions to consider:

  1. How relevant are these trends and themes to your organisation?
  2. Do you have appropriate assurance activities planned for your programmes and projects, so that both common (themes and trends) and specific delivery attributes are managed efficiently and effectively?
  3. How well are your programmes and projects set up for success?

PM-Partners group Assurance Services balance best practice and 18 years of industry knowledge to deliver one of the most powerful measures available, in order to either ensure or validate delivery success. In addition, our approach is focussed on providing pragmatic and practical advice, taking into account the unique environment for each customer. Each assignment integrates documentation review and feedback with completion of interview and workshop sessions. These sessions facilitate capture of 360-degree style feedback from sponsors, project managers, stakeholders, customers and team members.

PM-Partners group has completed a wide range of assurance assignments, including Health Checks and PIRs, for programmes and projects, and across a wide range of industries.

Interested in and Executive presentation on lessons learnt from over 200 Health Checks?

Contact us on 1300 70 13 14.

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