As a PMO do you audit your projects or perform any sort of health check. What should you look for from a project audit. Is your checking just confirming to the organisation that you are the project police or do you add real benefit that can be used to improve future projects and help project managers develop. How much of your governance checking is informed and improved by the feedback from your more experience project managers? Are you using the audit and health check cycle to improve the overall delivery of projects? Or are you using the process to simply beat up project managers.
Health checks and project audits can be a great way of improving delivery. It can also allow the PMO gaining direct feedback from the project managers about project methods and governance.
Selection of projects to Audit
How do you select the projects you check? There are a range of approaches you can take the table below highlight some of them with some advantages and disadvantages.
It might be worth considering a blend of 2 or more approaches in your PMOs approach for checking project health. That way you can allow for senior management selection of “favourite” projects and have a mechanism that keeps you informed of the project status across the portfolio. Project Audit can be time consuming so a care need to be taken to ensure the return justifies that effort involved.
The steps that make up Audit
A good project audit process should consider the core elements of your project. It is key to establish a consistent template for the PMO health checks. This approach will encourage objective and common review for each project. The template must include the core elements of project management:
- Financial control
- Stakeholder management
- Risk Management
But depending on your environment and the type of organisation there might be other elements you wish to included
The overhead of project audit
The amount of effort that your PMO can give to audit depends on the size of your PMO and the size of the Portfolio it supports. Health checks need to have enough depth to be useful, but not too much so that they have a negative impact.
Even if your PMO has significant resources to apply to health checks the process can quickly become an overhead on projects. As shown in the graph the most significant return on the audit can be gained quickly. To get maximum value might take more resource and will be less effective use of the time available. Overdo the checking process and value will diminish, or even have a negative impact on projects.
With a common template and method of audit your PMO can establish some trend analysis highlighting common areas and mapping out changes in trends over time. If you carefully structure your templates for audit you can easily automate the analysis across projects. Building in categories and common scoring in a spreadsheet template means you can use some simple macros to product you analysis. The alternative of manually compiling analysis across a large volume of projects is not a practice solution.
Not all PMOs do project audit but with a little planning and careful application it can be a useful tool in the PMO armoury. It will allow improvement of project delivery and feedback and improvement on your project life cycle and governance.