PROJECT AUDITS – A necessary evil or a tool for achieving success?

I hate project audits.

My days are already full with planning, controlling, communicating, managing stakeholder expectations and making the right decisions. In my mind, a good project manager pretty much audits his project every day! That’s how I know what is going on:

Is my project delivering the expected result at this point in time? I must always be knowledgeable about the state of my project. My audits target the evaluation of the project’s health (cost, time, scope, risks) and I do them minimally at every milestone occurrences with the different project stakeholders.

Am I satisfied that everything is done to mitigate risks on future project expectations? Risks are part of a project. There may be risk associated with any expected results. Do I have a strategy to mitigate them? I need to be able to answer this question.

So, why should I care about project audits?

Project risk management is a vast topic. Many strategies and techniques exist to make sure you identify, measure and mitigate project risks. But what about project process risks?  A best practice is a technique believed to be more effective at delivering a particular outcome when applied to a particular condition or circumstance. The Project Management Institute (PMI) proposes to use “best practices” as a mean to correct any deficiencies to reduce cost of quality and an increase in sponsor and customer acceptance of the project’s product.  Project audits are used to answer two questions:

Are project management best practices being followed to mitigate risks? We can surmise that a project manager who uses best practices should have a higher degree of success than someone who doesn’t.

Are there any lessons learned from my project experience? Project management is an evolving science. My organization may benefit from my good or bad decisions.

I love project audits.

It’s easy to write a bunch of guidelines on a piece of paper. But how do I use them so I feel it is improving my chance of success? Since best practices are implemented to reduce process induced risks, I should audit my practices to ensure the process will impact positively on my project results.

Best practice auditing targets issues related to the project organization and management. I put forward that best practice auditing should occur as often as possible.

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For more resources, see the Library topic Project Management.

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