Project Audits

Project Audits

Project audits can be used on both the people and process side by serving two major purposes.

1. Project audits are used to check compliance and ensure that project management processes are being used as they should. The results of the project audits will be used as input into the periodic organization assessments.

2. Auditing can also be an opportunity for coaching. The auditor can act as a coach and assist the project manager in understanding how the methodology is applicable to his or her project.

If project managers are open-minded, a project audit can be an opportunity to learn new things about how the project management processes apply to them. If there are areas where the audit finds room for improvement, the project manager and the auditor can discuss the value of the additional recommendations.

Some project managers see project audits as a point of intrusion and a mechanism for slapping them if they are not following the processes as they should. However, if a project manager chooses to take advantage of project audits, they can be great opportunities for learning.

There is no question that the primary purpose of the project audits is compliance. It is one thing to train and coach the project managers in the organization, and have all the appropriate processes and templates defined. It is another thing for the new processes to actually be adopted and utilized by the project teams.

If you want to change the culture and make sure that the new processes are sticking, you must make sure that the project teams are utilizing the processes correctly. The project audit is set up to ask a series of questions to ensure compliance with the required processes and procedures.

The auditing process can be time consuming. Just as it is not possible to provide coaching for all projects, it is also not practical to audit all projects. Even if you could, it is not worth the effort to audit all projects. Actually, you don't need to.

Much of the push to implement standard project management processes is going to come from senior and middle managers. If you audit a project in a certain area and the project team comes out pretty well, it is likely that the other projects in that same area will come out fine as well since the functional manager is probably helping with the culture change.

On the other hand, if you audit a project and the team is not following the standard procedures, it is likely a sign that the manager from that area is not being supportive of the methodology, and other projects in that area will probably have problems as well.

Since you don't want to look at all of the projects, you need to look at a subset using the following two selection criteria.

• Perform audits on all large and business critical projects. For instance, if your organization has a list of the top ten projects for the year, perform audits on all ten of them as they are executing.

• Spread the other audits among the organization. For instance, if you can perform five random audits per quarter, don't choose them all from the same area. Make sure that you audit one project from five different divisions or departments. If you audit five more the next quarter, choose them from five different areas if possible.

This will give you the broadest sense for how the entire organization is adapting to the changes. If projects are badly out of compliance, they should be audited again to see what kind of progress is being made. If no progress is made, this should be escalated to the project sponsor and functional management organization.

Project-Based Organizations


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