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When You Should Ask


"Preventive care is the best way to avoid serious disease. The same is true for keeping projects healthy. The project management method that corresponds to a doctor's checkup is the project audit."

Key Question: How often should I conduct a project audit?

"The project audit is designed to assure that the project's management activities comply with your defined project management methodology. The focus of project audits is to accurately ascertain the status of the project and recommend corrective measures if the project is getting into trouble. It is not a vehicle to be used to punish anyone. Once a project audit is used to persecute or prosecute, the audit process becomes ineffective and a waste of time. Project team members will band together to hide any problems and the project will take the primrose path right over the cliff. The audit criteria should be based upon the defined organizational Project Management Methodology. If one does not exist, of course you have a fundamental problem that most probably got you in trouble in the first place. These audits should be conducted by an independent party - typically the project officer or respected project manager without a vested interest in the project."

The Four Types of Audits

"Different audits are required for different stages of a project. No audit type is more or less important than the other audit types."
  1. "Project startup audit  This audit is performed at project initiation. The purpose is to review project planning and management at the front-end of the project. The objective is to ensure that, from a project management perspective, everything is in place for a successful project start."
  2. "Project periodic audit  The purpose of this audit is to ensure that the project is progressing according to your project management methodology. This audit should be performed at least once every three months, depending upon the size of the project."
  3. "Full process audit  This audit provides an extensive review of the project, identifies current or potential problems, and suggests specific corrective actions. This audit should be performed at the request of the technical or business unit management because of the impact on the project team resources in the data gathering activities. The intent of this audit is to determine the current status of the project and assess the project team and their ability to achieve the project goals. This audit is normally performed when evidence suggests that a project may be in jeopardy."
  4. "Post audit  This audit is intended to identify what went well during the project and to pinpoint areas for future improvement. A full, written report should be produced at the completion of the review. In addition, the project manager should produce a "lessons learned" report."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.