Be Assured – PRINCE2 Project Assurance

PRINCE2 project assurance saves time and keeps senior managers in control of their PRINCE2 project.  It has an important role as part of the PRINCE2 Organization theme and supports the Manage by Exception principle.

Within the PRINCE2 method the Project Board is accountable for the successful delivery of the project. However, it is not enough to believe that standards will be adhered to. It is not enough to ensure that the project is well set up and justified at the outset.  And it is definitely not enough to hope that the plan you approved 3 weeks ago is still being followed to the letter!   While the project is in progress it needs to be constantly checked confirm that:
  • It remains consistent with and continues to meet a business need, and
  • No change to the external environment has affected the viability of the project.
PRINCE2 Project Assurance is the function that ensures this is happening.  Project Assurance is the responsibility of the Project Board. It is their ‘guarantee’ as to whether the project is being delivered effectively.

3 PRINCE2 Project Assurance roles

PRINCE2 identifies 3 Assurance functions which are aligned to the the 3 project interests:
  • Business Assurance – makes sure the project delivers value to the organization
  • User Assurance – makes sure that the products meet the user’s needs products
  • Supplier Assurance – makes sure that quality products are delivered
Depending on the size, complexity and risk of the project, the Project Board may carry out assurance themselves.  Or they may decide to appoint individuals to carry the Project Assurance work for them.  Even if they delegate the assurance tasks Project Board members are still responsible for assuring the right progress of the project.  In short they can delegate the work, but not the responsibility of assurance.

Who can take on the role of PRINCE2 project assurance?

To enable someone to fulfill this role effectively a person should have a good working knowledge of:
  • The PRINCE2 methodology and the Assurance role in particular.  Appendix C of the PRINCE2 manual provides good checklists to help here.
  • The products that will be developed during the project’s life cycle
  • The User/Customer operations and how they will be affected by the project
  • The development and updating of a Business Case and Benefits realization plan
  • The human factors necessary for ensuring the usability of the end products of the project

Some examples of PRINCE2 project assurance.

In my experience as a PRINCE2 project manager I have seen many examples of successful PRINCE2 project assurance:
  • Business assurance - a project accountant, reporting directly to the Project Executive.  The account does the detail of checking the figures, but it is the Executive who takes responsibility and signs off
  • User assurance – a junior doctor working with suppliers to check new a new operating theatre in a hospital.  The junior then reports to a senior surgeon to confirm that the new facility is fit for purpose.
  • Supplier assurance – internally, the supplier appoints a “client business assurer.”  This person acts as the voice of the client or “devil’s advocate” to ensure that the supplier’s product meet the agreed quality standards, before they are delivered to the customer

Conclusion

PRINCE2 Project Assurance can make a significant contribution to the successful delivery of a project. Many projects run into trouble because they do not carry out this role effectively. It certainly can provide the project with a robust internal assessment of successful progress. So ‘Be Assured’ when it comes to project delivery and your project has a greater chance of successful delivery.

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