Understanding Project Management Audit
management auditing process can be defined by certain guidelines which
can be tailored to suit varying projects that differ according to complexity
and size. The main objective of these guidelines being, the project has
clear objectives outlined with responsibilities and ownership defined
unambiguously and the project is completed by adhering to the plan, on
time and with accordance to the budget.
The process also ensures that the scope of the project is as per the organizational need and there are no cost overruns, there are adequate resources present and personnel structure is appropriate. As per the Project Management Body of knowledge (PMBOK) Audits ensure the composition of a projects configuration items is correct and that the corresponding changes are registered, assessed, approved, tracked and correctly implemented.
Audits can either be project specific or organizational based. The organization should have a protocol defined that can be followed. Project specific audits should include a team that reviews the processes and internal methods. The audit team should refer the documents created before the project implementation and do a comparison of the processes and outcomes with original project specifications. A company wide audit may need to include more than one team to review the policies and procedures.
The auditing process should cover all the aspects of the project management such as the characteristics of the project, quality in the project management and strategic processes and all the phases of the project management cycle. It helps to have a project Audit and Review checklist to review the health of a project.
A Project Management Processes and Quality checklist can be created as a questionnaire and by referring the PRINCE2 and PMBOK methodologies.
The checklist can basically consist of the checklist questionnaire, document identification column, document result category, observation, findings and comments. Here, document result category is to indicate Compliant/ Non compliant/Present /Absent/Not Applicable for the specified process/document as relevant to the questionnaire under study.
To start with, the characteristics of a Project could be questioned. For example whether processes exist for planning, organizing monitoring and controlling all phases of a project can be checked. The Quality in Project Management Processes can be checked by verifying whether guidelines or processes exist in the organization to ensure quality.
The Strategic processes can be checked by questioning whether the customer and stakeholder needs have been made explicit and there is clear division of responsibility between all stakeholders and if project progress evaluation methods exist. Whether the management has provided a conductive environment to support the project and a system is in place to analyze information about projects can be noted.
The Interdependency Management Process can be checked by verifying existence of the responsible resource who manages the interdependencies amongst the processes. The Project Initiation and Project Plan development process can be checked by its own checklist having questions such as whether an approved plan is kept up to date and if there is any means of traceability depicted.
Does the Project Plan include a quality plan or approach and are reviews and progress evaluations included? These can also be checked. The Project Plan should also be verified on whether Project interfaces exist and how they are managed.
The Interaction Management checklist can check if the project consists of interaction teams such as risk management teams, project performance measuring teams etc. Whether Change Management process is prepared and does it include a documentation mechanism can be ascertained. Whether during Project Closure, projects are retained for a specific time and closure review completed for all projects irrespective of the rationale behind closure is also to be ensured as part of the audit process.
Sometimes activities regarding the Scope Related process and Concept Development are verified. These question on how the Customers requirement are translated into approved documented requirements. The Activity Definition/ Control checklist can be used to check if activities are broken down and defined with measurable outputs and whether they are in sync with the Project Plan and if variations are also updated in Project Plan.
The existence of Time-related processes can be checked to determine the duration and inter dependencies of activities. If Activity Dependency Planning is in place, estimation of duration of activities has been linked to project resource planning and time allocation for quality practices also included can be checked. The Schedule Development phase requires checking on the format and identification of milestones and existence of approval by stakeholders. The Schedule Control phase has to be checked if changes that affect objectives are agreed upon by stakeholders.
The Cost Related Processes can be checked by questions devised on how the costs are managed to make certain the project completes successfully within the budget constraints. The Cost Estimation phase can be checked to note if the estimation follows the accounting procedure defined and the Budgeting process is consistent. The Cost Control part of the project management can be checked by the process followed for purchasing/expenditure and on making sure whether budget variances are identified.
The Resource Related processes can also be checked by verifying whether resource planning and control is in place. The Personnel related processes related to definition of the project organizational structure and staff allocation can also be part of the checklist. The Team Development is checked by the encouragement provided in the project environment to the team.
The Communication Related Processes consists of the Communication Planning, Information Management and control. These can be checked by the existence of reports and relevant documents. The projects Risk related processes consisting of risk identification, assessment and control can be checked by questioning the techniques used and by existence of contingent plans.
The Purchasing related processes consisting of Purchasing Planning and Control, Documentation of requirements, Evaluation of Sub-contractors and sub-contracting and Contract control should also be checked for the processes adherence. Lastly, the Learning from the Project process can also be checked for, by scanning the project closure reviews and documentation of information on the project. As per the project requirement, size and complexity the features in a checklist can be tailored based on the companys protocol.
Thus the modus operand of Project Management audit can be encompassed in an audit plan or checklist which will detail the objectives and the steps to check and fulfill it. All standards and procedures should be assessed for efficiency and thoroughness. The auditor should develop good working relationship with the project manager and team, to be in a position to communicate and convince management on recommendations with due consideration on the cost and time factor involved in implementation.
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