Project quality audits play an important part in project execution. Audits are document verification systems that ensure that an activity is conforming to the defined processes, procedures, standards and guidelines. Audits are classified in many ways but are basically of two varieties, namely, conformance audits and investigative audits. Investigative audits are conducted to uncover the reasons behind a special event such as a major failure or success. Conformance audits are conducted on a periodic basis or a based on a event trigger, such as completion of a project phase such as initiation, requirements analysis, design, etc. Audits may be conducted organization-wide or for a single project. These are discussed in the following sections. The activities in a project quality audit are basically three, namely,
- Planning for the audits
- Conducting the audit and
- Follow up activities
Planning for Audits
Normally audits are planned once a year at the beginning and are adjusted once every month based on the actual completion of project activities. The following are the steps in planning of quality audits –
- Consolidate the project execution plan of the organization
- Schedule the periodic audits
- Schedule the event triggered audits based on the project plans
- Circulate the plan to all the concerned executives and obtain their feedback
- Implement the feedback received from various executives in the audit plan
- Obtain the approval from the approving authority and release it for implementation.
Quality audit plans are reviewed periodically, normally at the beginning of every month and dates are adjusted base on the convenience of the project managers and the auditors. The updated plan is released for implementation.
The organization needs qualified auditors. The auditors ought to be technically proficient in the area being audited as well as having been trained in conducting audits. If the audits result in certification such as ISO 9000, the auditors need to be certified by an agency authorized to award certificates for the selected standard. However, for internal audits, training in internal audits is adequate.
Steps in Conducting the Quality Audits
The following steps are implemented in conducting a project quality audit
- A quality auditor is assigned for conducting the audit. The auditor is selected based on the following criteria –
- The person should have been trained in conducting the audits
- The person has knowledge in the area being audited
- He is able t spare the time for conducting the audit, preparing the audit report and explain the findings to the auditee, and for the follow up activities needed to verify and close the audit report.
- The auditor collects information (processes, procedures, standards and guidelines) and instructions about the audit and studies the same in preparation for conducting the audit
- The auditee prepares the project documentation for expeditious presentation to the auditor
- The auditor arrives at the auditee’s location on time and the auditee would normally be present. If the auditee is not present when the auditor arrives, it is treated an a non-conformity.
- The auditor conducts the audit verifying the project documentation for conformance with the processes including procedures, standards, guidelines, formats and templates defined for the project
- Whenever, the auditor finds that the project documentation not conforming to the defined processes, the auditee can produce a waiver for such an occurrence. If the auditee is not able to produce an approved waiver, the auditor records a non-conformance
- The auditor completes the audit within the time allotted for the qudit which is normally one and a half hours.
- The auditor discusses all the non-conformances with the auditee giving one more opportunity to produce evidence contrary to the non-conformance. Then, the auditor prepares the audit report and includes all the non-conformances in it.
- The auditor then hands over the audit report to the auditee.
This completes the project quality audit.
Follow-Up Activities of the Audit
The auditee discusses the audit report with the departmental head and determines the appropriate corrective actions to close the non-conformance and preventive action to ensure that such non-conformance does not recur in the future for all the non-conformances pointed out in the audit report. The suditee implements the determined corrective and preventive actions and records them in the audit report. The auditee requests the auditor to verify the implemented actions and close the audit report. The auditor schedules a verification of implemented actions. If they are in order, the non-conformances are closed. The auditor signs off the audit report and makes part of the project records.
This completes the project quality audit.