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Keys to Project Success – Using Audits and Reviews as a Best Project Management Practice
In recent years, many companies have focused on project management techniques as a result of lessons learned from past project executions. After experiencing project delays, overruns, missed quality goals, communication barriers, “scope slippage” and a general perception of projects being out of control, these companies try to implement good project management practices to avoid these types of problems.
As part of this best practice, many companies have established project review and audit programs, periodically reviewing the status of projects and their alignment with individual and corporate goals. Although valuable, in many cases these reviews and audits are carried out by senior managers who have a stake in the project’s outcome or lack real experience and training in project management. Several companies have found that these management reviews fail because senior management and project managers may speak different languages and view projects from completely different perspectives.
Audits and reviews require preparation to be effective. Predefined project review and audit protocols can help both the project manager and the reviewer/auditor focus on important aspects of the project. Based on these protocols based on the proven philosophies of the Project Management Institute (PMI®), the world’s leading authority on the project management profession, can provide real project status. This provides an opportunity to take action on the most effective points of project implementation, which increases the probability of project success.
We have found that the most effective audits focus on project management knowledge areas as defined by PMI®. We’ve also found that an effective project review and audit involves much more than just sitting down with a project manager and asking a series of questions. Interviews with project team members, stakeholders, and senior management, as well as a thorough review of all project-related documentation, are equally important to achieving effective results.
Compliance with project management processes
A defined set of project management processes ensures consistency of project management methodology across all projects. This facilitates program management, allows for interchangeability of resources, and increases the likelihood of project success. The audit should examine the compliance of the project procedures with the project management processes of the enterprise. However, blindly following these procedures without considering the specifics of the project can lead to inefficiencies and stifle the creativity or flexibility needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
scope of control
Change in scope, without additional adjustments to project schedule, budget, and objectives, is a major cause of schedule deviations and project overruns. Adherence to change control procedures is essential to identify and prevent the inappropriate addition of “out of scope” elements to the project and limit scope creep. Audits should target scope management as a key factor in overall project performance to avoid unnecessary increases in project size without corresponding increases in project cost.
Compliance with project charter
The project charter broadly defines the objectives of the project and how the success of the project will be measured. It essentially serves as the primary focus of all project efforts. Projects can easily be derailed by ignoring the project charter, leading to both schedule and budget problems.
Project cost affects all other aspects of the project. Proper budget estimation and tracking is essential to control project costs. Understanding the budget situation of a project can influence all decisions made during project execution and design. An audit should focus on the two most critical aspects of cost control—estimation and tracking. Estimating factors include methodologies used to determine project costs and cost constraints, resource planning, and assumptions made in the estimating process. Tracking factors include the mechanism used to track costs and the methodologies used to determine project cost status.
Proper time management is critical to meeting critical project deadlines and achieving go-to-market goals. Carefully defining project activities, sequencing them properly, estimating resources and time for each, and developing a schedule are critical phases of the planning process. Audits and reviews should focus on compliance with time management processes – were activities properly defined and sequenced? How were the ratings determined? And what mechanisms are used to protect and control the schedule?
A number of project performance studies indicate this Communication is the number 1 problem that project managers face; Therefore, proper communication is vital to the success of the project. With this level of importance, the audit and review should focus heavily on the project manager’s communication procedures and capabilities, overcoming barriers to communication within the company, and the effectiveness of the communication mechanisms used – whether stakeholders are being assessed on the information they need. To make the project successful?
Risk recognition and management are critical to project success. Anticipating and planning for risky events increases the likelihood and impact of positive events and reduces the likelihood and impact of negative events on the project. Auditing should focus on project plans to avoid problems and planning to respond to problems that cannot be avoided.
Quality is the key to customer satisfaction, and managing customer expectations is the key to project success. Audits and reviews should focus on your approach to product delivery – is prevention emphasized over inspection? Is quality built in or checked? Are all team members (including management) involved in the quality process?
of human resources
Alignment of project goals with the goals and motivations of the project team is an important part of the successful completion of any project. Defining and communicating the roles and responsibilities of management, team members, and other project stakeholders is essential. Project audits should focus on critical aspects of HR management – is the project staffed appropriately? Are the team members in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? Are members’ roles clear? Are there motivational problems?
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