On 27 June the Luxembourg Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) hosted an event at the Chambre des Métiers on Project Assurance.

The speaker, Cédric Schumacker from PwC Luxembourg, is certified in Information Systems Audit (CISA), as well as in Prince2 and Agile Project Management. He holds a Master in Business Engineering from the FUCaM (Facultés Universitaires Catholiques de Mons) in Belgium and has also followed a master in Business Information Management at the Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University. He is currently in charge of the Service Offering on Project and Quality Assurance (incl. Quality Management and Testing).

Project Assurance (PA) is not a new discipline and is defined as the involvement of independent and objective oversight with expert experience to ensure that a project is efficiently managed. Project Assurance helps those that govern or manage a project to make better informed decisions and reduce the potential causes of project failure, while maximizing the chances of success. Cédric Schumacker reminded the audience that projects are becoming more complex with greater risk and higher investment. Project statistics still reflect that 86% of projects fail against their objectives, either through delays, cost overruns, or non-alignment with strategy.

Project Assurance initiatives can be tailored to the needs of an organization - focusing on a Point-in-Time, a Periodic Health-Check or a 'Heartbeat' role where constant monitoring of the project is delivered. It is important to first assess in all lines of defense the current assurance level in the enterprise and the gaps that may need to be addressed. Depending on the requirements, the extent of Project Assurance can be at Portfolio or Program level, at Project level or even a deep dive into certain deliverables or objectives. Projects that are typically suited for Project Assurance are those which follow a waterfall approach, high capital projects (over €1m), technically complex projects where new technologies are engaged, or large company-wide projects with high complexity or high risk.

Responding to a question on how a 3rd party Project Assurance team is perceived by the Project team, Cédric Schumacker emphasized that the PA team should win the trust of the project team by clearly adding value to the project through reporting capabilities and bringing a legitimate team of experts combining experience in similar project delivery with project assurance skill to the project team. The PA team should aim to be problem solvers rather than problem finders and deliver issue resolution on a real-time basis.  Although the Board or key project stakeholders normally engage a Project Assurance team, the key contact within the organization would ideally be the PMO. Although Project Assurance services are generally delivered through 3rd party consultants, more mature organizations often fulfil this service internally through their PMO or Internal Audit departments.

Cédric Schumacker concluded the presentation by referring to two anonymized use-cases. He gave an example of a small private bank which wanted to migrate its core banking system. This example illustrated how disastrous this migration would have been without the engagement of Project Assurance. A second example was of an organization who wanted to reengineer their financial software, moving from an off-the-shelf system to an in-house custom developed solution. The case study highlighted the danger of an IT organization working in a silo and not engaging with key business stakeholders on the requirements.

The evening concluded with a networking cocktail where the audience could interact with the speaker.

Editor:

Henry Dixon

Past Vice-President & Secretary of PMI Luxembourg

Pictures:

Bart Van Mulders

PMI Luxembourg Chapter Volunteer

 

PMI-Event_Project-Assurance_2017-06-27_slides.pdf