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Peer Assist Technique

What is a Peer Assist?

  • It is a technique used by a project team to solicit assistance from peers and subject matter experts regarding a significant issue the team is facing.

  • Peer assists are part of a process of ‘learning before doing’, i.e. gathering knowledge before embarking on a project or piece of work.

  • The peer assist meeting usually lasts from half a day to two days but can be truncated to a couple of hours where an idea is being discussed not a project. Both the project team and the peers discuss about the project and provide solutions.

  • The team gains project insights from their peers in the meetings. The peers gain as well, learning from the project and each other.

Why conduct a Peer Assist?

  • The purpose of a Peer Assist is to shorten the learning curve of the project team.

  • Normally the team members struggle to solve new and complex project issues based on their existing knowledge and resources. This very often leads to sub-optimal solutions at best and/or failures

  • Peer Assist provides an avenue for project teams to surface project issues with outside Teams can identify real underlying issues, new approaches and solutions.

  • The ability of the Peer Assist to tap into the experience and knowledge of their peers makes it a valuable tool that yields immediate insights and results.

How to conduct a Peer Assist?

  • The project leader normally initiates the assistance when peers could assist them in their project.

  • There is no fixed timetable as to when the peers can be called in. Some Peer Assists are called early in a project and some are called later. It depends on the needs of the project team and the complexity of the project.

The project leader sets the meeting agenda. It could include some of the following items:

  • Introduction of participants.

  • Objectives for the meeting and the schedule.

  • Presentation of project details and issues.

  • Recommendations and discussion.

It is important to provide time for the peer raters to think through the issues and the recommendations on their own before reconvening again to discuss on the recommendations. It is preferable that the meeting is scheduled as two parts either on the same day or over two days.

  • Teams who call for an assist are not obligated to use the suggestions provided by the

peers. However most find the insights of their peers of valuable in their on-going project work.

  • It is not necessary for the project team to decide on the recommendations during the


  • The project team can discuss the recommendations at a later project meeting.

Who should be invited as Peer Assisters:

  • Limit the number of peer assisters to not more than six. It is difficult to have an in-depth discussion if the group is large.

  • Invite only those who have expertise and knowledge regarding the situation the team is facing in the project.

  • The project leader can get suggestions from the team members regarding the possible invitees to the meeting.

Guidelines on conducting a Peer Assist:

  • It is important that the project team think through the objectives of the Peer Assist meeting.

  • The more specific and clear the objectives the more fruitful the meeting will be. Since the project leader initiates the meeting; he or she is at liberty to redirect the meeting if the discussion deviates from the objectives.

  • The project leader or a skilled facilitator can facilitate the meeting. The leader should refrain from facilitating the meeting if he has a tendency to dominate the meeting.

  • It will be helpful to send to the peers the background information of the project and the objectives of the meeting. This will ensure that the peer ratters can contribute effectively in the meeting.

  • It is useful to have all the project team members (or their representatives if the team is large)to attend the meeting. This will provide an opportunity for each participant to ask questions pertaining to their area.

  • The leader or facilitator should provide an opportunity for the project team members to respondent participate in the discussion.

  • It is important for the project team to convene a meeting to review what they have learned from the Peer Assist meeting.