Project assurance: how to set your project up for success

Posted by Team Sharktower on November 4th, 2022

Project assurance is a process that is becoming more and more crucial, and not just in large organisations with central PMOs.

In this blog, we take a look at how to identify when you need to up your assurance game; what good looks like; and how project management software can help you automate it.

 

What is the purpose of project assurance?

The APM defines assurance as ‘the process of providing confidence to stakeholders that projects, programmes and portfolios will achieve their scope, time, cost, quality objectives, and realise their benefits’. This process also picks up potential risks and issues early and provides recommendations to improve delivery. The objective of assurance is to give stakeholders the confidence that projects will be able to accomplish their goals within the time, budget, and quality range.

Successful assurance shows that resources are being used efficiently and that project benefits are being recognised in the proper manner. Assurance encompasses far more than just reviews; it covers everything that occurs during and after a project to guarantee that risks are appropriately handled and that appropriate decisions are made.

Project assurance can no longer be reserved for big companies with dedicated assurance teams. When success is critical for every business, it’s a process every change-focused leader should want to introduce.

 

Pain points that indicate project assurance could benefit your organisation

Programme leaders, sponsors or audit teams often shoulder the blame when programmes fail. However, more often than not the failure is in the approach. ​

1. Sudden changes in project status

If your project status is suddenly reported as red (or is constantly amber), leading to surprises that need urgent attention.​

2. Late project recommendations

Audits are typically lengthy, require lots of team time, are disruptive, and deliver recommendations that are too late to make a difference.​

3. Unmanageable volumes

Your capacity to execute assurance work is limited, often leading to reviews of projects that are known to be in trouble or are on senior stakeholders’ worry list.​

4. Scope management is the default

Scope changes or reductions are the default approaches to problems, leading to dilution of outcomes, unintended operational impacts and unsatisfied stakeholders.​

Do you find yourself facing these challenges? ​The pressure to deliver successful project outcomes is greater than ever. Robust assurance can give leaders confidence in the successful delivery of change.​

 

The features of good project assurance

Project assurance should be forward-thinking, provide objective insights over time and increase your confidence that your investment is protected.

There are 5 key areas you can assess to help you increase your chances of success.

1. Assurance audits should be well-timed

Project assurance should be carried out early enough to allow recommendations to be acted upon. Assurance engagements must also be well planned, including the specification of the project objective, scope, timing, and resource allocation.

2. Assurance audits must be delivered at a fast pace

Project reviews should balance disruption to teams with recommendations that can be acted upon while they are still relevant and impactful.

3. Assurance should deliver actionable recommendations

Recommendations should be easy to understand and practical – something that can be acted upon to improve the chances of success.

4. Assurance should be used to provide benchmarks

Good project assurance should provide a baseline against ‘what good looks like’ and continuous assessment of changes over time​.

5. Assurance should be forward-looking

Project assurance should look forward, not just at past performance, and predict risks that enable management to anticipate issues and proactively respond​. By benchmarking against previous successful projects, you increase the predictability of projects being successful and achieving their intended outcomes and objectives

 

Automating the process using Sharktower

Automating project assurance is a great way to future-proof the process. With Sharktower, you don’t have to consolidate project data because it’s all right there in the Delivery Map feature, and you don’t need to create reports because they’re available in real time to the whole business.

Sharktower’s Delivery Map and Real-time Reporting show the information you need to carry out project assurance

 

This data can help show teams where to focus; what projects, activities or workstreams need attention; and where things could be improved. These real-time reports and AI-driven insights also reduce the chance of manual errors and human bias.

Our customer success team help the businesses we work with to design and build a dashboard based on their specific requirements and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This gives them real-time insights into how people are using and managing their projects in Sharktower.

See it in action

These short demos show you how Sharktower can help you gather and interpret the information you need for fast, accurate project assurance.

Real-time reporting (90-second demo)

 

Managing Objectives and Key Results (2-minute demo)

 

Let’s talk

If you’d like to know more about project assurance (and automated assurance), and how Sharktower can help you manage the process, get in touch today.