The primary purpose behind any project audit is to find the reasons causing problems in a project. The project audit will answer a number of questions the project management team is finding difficult to fully understand.
Situations That Call For a Project Audit
A project audit is an independent assessment of any aspects of the project that is worrying a project management team. It can be called for when situations look like they are getting out of hand. Project audits can also be scheduled regularly as a means for managers and owners of a project to assess the risks, costs and time schedules on a project. Audits should always be entrusted to independent teams. When should a project audit be done? That question is best answered by keeping constant tabs on a project.
Audits can be triggered when:
- Situations come about which do not give a clear picture of the happenings on a project.
- Reports on the various stages of the project give a project manager the feeling that certain facts are being glossed over.
- A doubt arises on whether the project deliverables are being achieved.
- Technical lacunae seem to be apparent.
- The progress on the project is vastly in variance with the project plan. An audit can pinpoint reasons for this variance and whether goals and targets actually need to be changed.
- There are doubts about the organization of the project and its ability to produce results.
- A need for technical changes is felt, to see whether they conform to best practices in the industry.
All these situations call for properly run independent audits which could pinpoint defects and suggest the best methods to move forward to proper implementation. Projects that have a number of milestones and deliverables are best audited at regular intervals.
If the project audit is not a scheduled one, but some of the conditions that call for an audit do exist, then the project audit needs to be initiated in consultation with the sponsors of the project. The situation that has prompted this action has to be fully explained and the audit team has to be briefed on problems they are to look for.
The audit team has to understand the project, the team executing it, and the members of the project team who would be concerned with the area of the audit being considered. Existing documents and data would have to be studied. Key team members would have to be interviewed to understand the processes which they have followed for execution of the project.
Once these studies are completed reports would have to be prepared which would give a summary of the audit, the background that initiated the audit, and the risks now identified. The audit then has to move to the final stage of assessing the risks and suggesting ways to avoid them. It must also lay down clearly the effects of the risks perceived and their likely outcome on the project in case they are ignored.