Assurance Reviews: Enhancing Program and Project Performance

Expert insights from Andrew Gorvin-White on Assurance Reviews' role in optimising project health and performance.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Gorvin-White, a renowned leader in Portfolio and EPMO. During our conversation, he shared valuable insights on the importance and implementation of Assurance Reviews in managing programs and projects. Here's what he had to say:

Assurance Reviews serve as a proactive, constructive tool to ensure the robust health and effective performance of ongoing programs and projects. These reviews are not just evaluative checkpoints; they are opportunities for reflection, drawing from a wide knowledge base to realign and refocus delivery expectations in a practical, adaptable manner.

The primary benefit of Assurance Reviews lies in their ability to strengthen the likelihood of achieving desired outcomes. This is done by addressing recommended actions identified during the reviews and emphasising continuous improvement activities. These reviews are scheduled throughout the program or project lifecycle, either in response to specific events or as part of a predetermined schedule, providing critical, timely assessments against set criteria.

When the need for a review is identified, it's crucial to properly scope it. This involves confirming the review's nature, timelines, and identifying key stakeholders and team members. Such preparation helps to estimate the effort and cost involved, ensuring a smooth commencement of the review process.

Typically, these reviews include a desktop analysis of relevant program or project documentation and workshops or interviews with key stakeholders. This dual approach provides a comprehensive perspective, enabling an informed assessment against established Project Performance and Risk Criteria.

The outcome of an Assurance Review is twofold: it confirms the program or project's overall health and performance, and it offers targeted recommendations to optimise delivery towards achieving the agreed-upon outcomes.

A detailed report is then prepared, encapsulating the review's findings and recommended actions. This report, upon agreement, is disseminated to the involved parties, relevant senior leaders, and the group's EPMO (or equivalent). It includes the findings, agreed actions, responsible individuals, and completion timelines.

It is advisable to maintain a level of oversight post-review to ensure that corrective actions are fully implemented, meeting the required quality standards and deadlines.

Moreover, since each review is conducted against predefined criteria, they provide a valuable opportunity for central data collection. This data is crucial for broader portfolio performance reporting and measurement, and it also informs the continuous improvement of processes, practices, and capabilities."

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