• Joe Manning, Director |
2 min read

Our infrastructure is the backbone of our country. It makes our economy tick. It gets people to places. It keeps us warm. It helps us work where we want. It quenches our thirst.

But behind our vast networks are hundreds of complex projects. And each £1 spent on those projects generates £3 for our economy. It’s essential – especially in these uncertain and challenging times - that these projects are delivered well, safely, on time and on budget. 

One step forward

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Since Henry Gantt introduced us to his eponymous chart back in the early 1900s, we have only seen incremental changes to project delivery. While critical path approaches or waterfall methods may still have their place, today’s projects are too complex and require integrating more diverse work packages to rely on traditional methods alone.

Digital dependence is greater; the asset-people interface more intricate, and the corporate responsibility demands are bigger than ever. Projects need a more sophisticated, comprehensive assurance model so that owners, financers, investors, delivery teams and end-users have confidence in successful delivery.

It’s time for a step-change. 

Smarter assurance

While project delays and budget overruns often grab the headlines, we need to move on and focus on the role assurance can play to fix this problem. Assurance provides three key pillars for effective project delivery: 

  • Confidence in the delivery status to a project’s stakeholders
  • Clarity of the project's risk profile
  • Recommendations to fix any potential problems  

More and more,  the assurance process is  ‘integrated’ into the project, and thereby reduces disruption to delivery teams. It’s no longer an add-on done at various points – it needs to be an embedded and ongoing process. 

Complex projects, complex solution

Project assurance has traditionally focussed on compliance in line with the investment requirements of its funder(s) and sponsor(s). As a result, assurance activity has largely manifested as Control Gates linked to funding release points and project closure.

While this worked in the past, today’s challenges are too complex for the traditional approach to project assurance to be consistently effective. We increasingly need a systems-based approach to deliver, that integrates all the work packages of very different delivery methodologies and scopes.

This system complexity, combined with the critical assurance needed to meet the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) agenda, means a new and updated project assurance approach is required, if it is to remain a valuable source of intelligence and means of control. At KPMG, we recognised how vital this is, and developed our own model of Complex Project Ecosystem Assurance.

Infrastructure projects can no longer be late, over budget or not support our journey to Net-Zero. They are too important to maintain a growing and successful economy.

Revolutionising our assurance process can make sure that doesn’t happen.