At CSM, the project office had an audit team that reviewed all projects. The audit team evaluated the financial schedule and the quality of the project results. The audit team found that the project was a week behind schedule. The audit report noted that for IT projects dealing with online transactions, stress testing is very important. The audit team suggested that the reasons for the success of this project were senior management support and the consistency of project priorities. It was also found that not all consultants hired were highly successful and that some of them had to be changed in the course of the project.
The B2B audit report summary included reasons for the schedule slippage as well as reasons for the overall project success. While there is not enough detail to comment on the completeness of the project audit, at least it was performed and it addressed several areas.
The purposes for conducting project audits are to determine: how well the project priorities (scope, quality, schedule, and cost) were achieved; the reasons for the success (or lack of success) in achieving each priority; and any corrective actions that are needed.
The project audit serves a very useful function if it is performed in a positive manner. That is, it should be used to look for solutions, not to place blame. Project audits provide a thorough and methodical review of all aspects of a project and can be implemented in various ways. Some companies have a quality assurance group that performs the project audit, some have project audit teams as a function of the project office, and yet others have an auditing function in their accounting group.
Project audits are a useful tool for gathering the information needed to ensure that all deliverables are complete, quality is acceptable, and all open contractual issues are resolved. Project audits are normally performed at the end of the project, but can occur at any time during the project lifecycle. Project audits that occur earlier in a project can provide a measuring stick to see how a project is doing and, if necessary, make recommendations for corrective actions. Project audits performed during closing do not help the current project, but they capture lessons learned for future projects and also serve as a performance measure for the project manager and the project team.
Informal methods of conducting project audits include:
Mutual nonthreatening review of each other's project by two project managers
Requesting a review of your project by an independent consultant or the project office staff
Internal team review to walk through the project and determine how it is progressing.
The project audit activities cover all aspects of project leadership. The project leader needs to take an active role in the analysis of the results of the audit and, if changes are required, take a positive approach to communicating and effecting the changes. The core team members need to look at the project audit in a positive light and assist in making any needed corrective actions now or on future projects. The organization needs to support this effort and assist by providing adequate resources to successfully complete the project audit and take any necessary corrective actions.
A Project Leader Needs to:
Accept that all projects can be improved through timely and thoughtful audits
Have the courage to learn from project audits
Exercise the wisdom to look for solutions instead of culprits.