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Programmes easily go off course. Poor organisational design can seal their fate from the start. Weak route planning will mean missed opportunities, wasted time and a frantic scramble later on. Casual, superficial, low quality execution of tasks producing poor deliverables will undermine down stream work. Avoiding these diseases is the remit of programme assurance.
Programme assurance supports those directing a programme. It is their conscience, their radar and, ultimately, their police force. It challenges them and it feeds them with concrete data showing what is not going well. It compensates for the typical “good news” bias found in much status reporting. It identifies the holes that no one will ever reports on because holes are no one’s responsibility.
Effective programme assurance depends on experience and attitude. Hard won experience is essential, it brings with it the insights gained from many years of making your own mistakes or observing others making them. The second factor is attitude. Scepticism and a need to be convinced by argument or analysis is essential. The ability to remain professionally sceptical in the face of mass wishful thinking is rare.
We are experienced and sceptical. For many years we have delivered programme assessments and programme assurance remits. We did our first programme review back in 1991 and have regularly operated in this role since then. These days we are called on by the CIOs of global players to look at their most difficult programmes, identify whether things need fixing and then to put in place the ongoing assurance needed to keep them out of trouble.