The word audit sometimes has a negative connotation to it, especially to the ears of the person undergoing it. Fearing an audit is a natural reaction. Many people who failed an audit in the past can only attest to how nerve-wracking the process can be. For a project manager, an audit is like a judgment day. This is because work, time and money are at stake. Although it is not always a much anticipated event, a project audit can result in a positive outcome, whether a project manager passes or fails it.
The ultimate goal of a project audit is to ensure that the project is meeting project management standards through investigations and evaluations. The following are five main objectives of a project audit:
1) Assure Quality of Products and Services
A project audit acts as a quality assurance instrument. It scrutinizes the project life cycle system by evaluating the deliverables produced during various phases of the project from the design phase all the way to the implementation phase. During the design phase review, a project audit assesses the completeness of the design concepts including analyzing alternative designs. It also conducts a complete technical assessment of the design before purchasing or coding software. During the pilot readiness review, a project audit evaluates whether the solution is ready for pilot testing, while it assesses the readiness for full implementation during the implementation readiness review. Finally, during the implementation review, the project audit assesses and validates the implementation on each site that implements the new solution. Identifying problems earlier helps address problems and make decisions whether the project should continue by making a go/no-go decision in each phase.
2) Assure Quality of Project Management
A project audit assures that project management is meeting the standards by evaluating if it follows the organization’s policies, processes and procedures. It scrutinizes the methodology used to help identify the gaps in order to make the necessary improvements.
3) Identify Business Risk
Project audits help identify business risks that may involve budget, time, scope and quality. After all, the company is the client itself, which has a bigger stake at the outcome of the project. The project audit evaluates the feasibility of the project in terms of affordability and returns by providing transparency to the project status and performance by evaluating the cost, time and resources. It does a check-and-balance approach when it comes to scrutinizing the budget by reviewing data that includes estimated and actual costs as well as target completion costs. It reports to the company its findings and provides an outlook of the budget. It reports the business risks to help the company decide whether to proceed with the project or not.
4) Enhance Project Performance
Auditing the various phases in the project life cycle can help improve performance of the project team. It also improves resource and budget allocation. Identifying priorities, corrective measures and preventative actions can lead to a successful project outcome. Discovering problems along the way allows the project team to provide solutions. It also helps prevent future recurrence of similar issues.
A project audit can lead to learning opportunities through assessments of project management (organizational, team and individual) competency. Providing reviews and feedbacks allow individuals and project teams to reflect on their performance. The results aim to re-energize the project teams to improve their performance, resolve conflicts and learn from their past mistakes.