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Taming Chaotic Project Management - Using Project Audits Effectively

Posted Feb 06 2010 8:11am

Audits can be misconstrued as a nasty word. Before an audit there is a sense of dread for not meeting a benchmark. After an audit there are activities are focused on to obtain the mediocre benchmarknot focusing on the cause and development of colleagues. No wonderAudits are not faced with happy smiling faces.

A properly constructed audit can help the organization embrace the PMO as a helpful resource. The trick of the trade is to tune in upon the goals of the organization and have a support structure in place to help project managers develop.

  1. Ascertain the overall organizational goal - From the project management perspective take a look at the business problem project management is trying to solve. These can be found in the PMO charteror by discussions with hospital and it administration. Is there an alignment problem? Is there a quality issue? Be collaborative and discover the shared desired outcomes.
  2. Be Inquistive on why this outcome is needed - Once you have a shared understanding on outcomesinvestigate why the need developed. During these assessmentan understanding of the culture and environmental factors will come to light. Another side benefit will be to obtain the trigger points which lead down the path away from the desired outcomes. You will probably develop a cycle of eventswhich one can review and watch for problematic issues.
  3. Determine how to measure the desired outcome along the cycle - In taking a look at the outcomecheck in the cycle clear measurable actions needed. For exampleif there is an alignment problem between IS and the businesswhat can be measured in project qualification to assure the project was blessed and deserved focus? Perhapsthe business case could be reviewed? Was it presented to governance? Did the pm just write the business case or was it a joint effort with the sponsor? Did the business case capture business benefits or just is benefits?
  4. Develop a standardize tool to evaluate the measure - Normally this tool is a checklist or quality assessment question list. The tool should have a place to denote the requested documentation. This tool should be objective and capture all measurable points
  5. Utilize good audit practices - There is plenty of material on good audit practicesbut some key points are no real supriseslisten intentlyask several individualsask for proof of the policy and documentation the policy is followed - it is highlighting if you have documentation but no one knows where the policy is around the activity
  6. Follow up and offer different development opportunities - After the auditgaps will be identified. How those gaps are communicated and the action plan is really the place a PMO partnership can shine. Work with the PM to assure there is understanding on the why a gap occurredwalk through the situationand coach them on how to improve in the future. Offer group sessions or opportunities for improving and developing their project leadership skills
A project audit is a vital tool in the PMO's tool chest. Audits and mesasure should not be done just for auditing and measuring's sake. They should be completed to assess and improve the overall desired benefits of the organization's project management methodology. They also should be run from a knowledge sharing perspectivewith the end goal of improving the organization.

If you enjoyed this post you may what to check out these further readings on Taming Chaotic Project Management:

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