How not to be intimidated by Project Audits

It is extremely frustrating for us Project Managers when auditing and quality assurance folks forget that quality actually has a cost. And in projects, unlike in normal operations, this cost has to be accounted for in the project’s budget and schedule from the start of the project.

There is nothing worse than to be asked to respond to time-consuming audit requests, when you have already planned your project and baselined your schedule and budget. Are you supposed to somehow just absorb the cost and impact of the audit by staying late and working few more hours each day?

Remember, it is just another requirement

Don’t forget project management fundamentals. From your perspective as a Project Manager, auditing requirements are just like any other requirement. They need to be capture early in the project lifecycle, so you and your team can reflect the effort to meet them in your project plan. Make sure to document in your plan all the deliverables that the audit requires, so your project is considered in compliance. For example, if you are required to provide additional special briefing and reports for auditors, make sure this is reflected in your communication plan.

Measure the cost of compliance

If the audit starts when your project is already in flight, treat this as a change and handle it accordingly. Don’t make an exception just because this is an audit.

Every audit requirement, which requires work on the part the project manager or project team, has a cost in terms of time and efforts. This cost can be measured and should be measured. If the cost was not reflected in the original project’s baseline budget and schedule, then the requirement should be treated as a change. And as any change, it should be managed properly thru the (hopefully) already established change management process.

Don’t forget the other costs

What cannot be measured, however, is the cost to the project when compliance takes too much of the Project Manager’s attention away from the project. Depending on when the requirement is introduced, it can have the devastating effect of causing a driver to take their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel. Use your risk log and issue log to document any threats to your project, due to the fact that you have to dedicate significant time for audit compliance. Bring these issues up in your communication with project sponsors and steering committees. They will need to know, so they are not surprised.

Is it an audit or a witch-hunt?

Make sure you are aware of what’s really going on and what is behind the audit. This will help you anticipate and pre-empt any real issues underlying need for the audit. In my experience, auditing is introduced to projects when organizations are not willing or able to have a real conversation about what is not working. They hope auditing will resolve the problem without them having to do the real work. Usually we already know what is wrong, but our fear of what we have to face, share, or expose leads to use auditing as a shortcut.  So keep your eyes open.

The fallacy of project audits

Whatever you do, see “audit” for what it is and don’t take it personally.  While you cannot stop it, you can educate your sponsors by showing them the cost of compliance so they can be better informed to make decision on the audit’s return of investment.

Remember that audits never measure what is most important for project success. We can’t really audit morale, commitment, discretionary effort, and going beyond the call of duty. We don’t have the tools to measure trust, powerful collaboration, and robust and authentic relationships between the project stakeholders. That, at the end of the day, is what makes projects succeed or fail.

So what’s your take on project audits? I would love your comments.

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/how-not-to-be-intimidated-by-project-audits/trackback

How not to be intimidated by Project Audits

It is extremely frustrating for us Project Managers when auditing and quality assurance folks forget that quality actually has a cost. And in projects, unlike in normal operations, this cost has to be accounted for in the project’s budget and schedule from the start of the project.

There is nothing worse than to be asked to respond to time-consuming audit requests, when you have already planned your project and baselined your schedule and budget. Are you supposed to somehow just absorb the cost and impact of the audit by staying late and working few more hours each day?

Remember, it is just another requirement

Don’t forget project management fundamentals. From your perspective as a Project Manager, auditing requirements are just like any other requirement. They need to be capture early in the project lifecycle, so you and your team can reflect the effort to meet them in your project plan. Make sure to document in your plan all the deliverables that the audit requires, so your project is considered in compliance. For example, if you are required to provide additional special briefing and reports for auditors, make sure this is reflected in your communication plan.

Measure the cost of compliance

If the audit starts when your project is already in flight, treat this as a change and handle it accordingly. Don’t make an exception just because this is an audit.

Every audit requirement, which requires work on the part the project manager or project team, has a cost in terms of time and efforts. This cost can be measured and should be measured. If the cost was not reflected in the original project’s baseline budget and schedule, then the requirement should be treated as a change. And as any change, it should be managed properly thru the (hopefully) already established change management process.

Don’t forget the other costs

What cannot be measured, however, is the cost to the project when compliance takes too much of the Project Manager’s attention away from the project. Depending on when the requirement is introduced, it can have the devastating effect of causing a driver to take their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel. Use your risk log and issue log to document any threats to your project, due to the fact that you have to dedicate significant time for audit compliance. Bring these issues up in your communication with project sponsors and steering committees. They will need to know, so they are not surprised.

Is it an audit or a witch-hunt?

Make sure you are aware of what’s really going on and what is behind the audit. This will help you anticipate and pre-empt any real issues underlying need for the audit. In my experience, auditing is introduced to projects when organizations are not willing or able to have a real conversation about what is not working. They hope auditing will resolve the problem without them having to do the real work. Usually we already know what is wrong, but our fear of what we have to face, share, or expose leads to use auditing as a shortcut.  So keep your eyes open.

The fallacy of project audits

Whatever you do, see “audit” for what it is and don’t take it personally.  While you cannot stop it, you can educate your sponsors by showing them the cost of compliance so they can be better informed to make decision on the audit’s return of investment.

Remember that audits never measure what is most important for project success. We can’t really audit morale, commitment, discretionary effort, and going beyond the call of duty. We don’t have the tools to measure trust, powerful collaboration, and robust and authentic relationships between the project stakeholders. That, at the end of the day, is what makes projects succeed or fail.

So what’s your take on project audits? I would love your comments.

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/how-not-to-be-intimidated-by-project-audits/trackback

How not to be intimidated by Project Audits

It is extremely frustrating for us Project Managers when auditing and quality assurance folks forget that quality actually has a cost. And in projects, unlike in normal operations, this cost has to be accounted for in the project’s budget and schedule from the start of the project.

There is nothing worse than to be asked to respond to time-consuming audit requests, when you have already planned your project and baselined your schedule and budget. Are you supposed to somehow just absorb the cost and impact of the audit by staying late and working few more hours each day?

Remember, it is just another requirement

Don’t forget project management fundamentals. From your perspective as a Project Manager, auditing requirements are just like any other requirement. They need to be capture early in the project lifecycle, so you and your team can reflect the effort to meet them in your project plan. Make sure to document in your plan all the deliverables that the audit requires, so your project is considered in compliance. For example, if you are required to provide additional special briefing and reports for auditors, make sure this is reflected in your communication plan.

Measure the cost of compliance

If the audit starts when your project is already in flight, treat this as a change and handle it accordingly. Don’t make an exception just because this is an audit.

Every audit requirement, which requires work on the part the project manager or project team, has a cost in terms of time and efforts. This cost can be measured and should be measured. If the cost was not reflected in the original project’s baseline budget and schedule, then the requirement should be treated as a change. And as any change, it should be managed properly thru the (hopefully) already established change management process.

Don’t forget the other costs

What cannot be measured, however, is the cost to the project when compliance takes too much of the Project Manager’s attention away from the project. Depending on when the requirement is introduced, it can have the devastating effect of causing a driver to take their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel. Use your risk log and issue log to document any threats to your project, due to the fact that you have to dedicate significant time for audit compliance. Bring these issues up in your communication with project sponsors and steering committees. They will need to know, so they are not surprised.

Is it an audit or a witch-hunt?

Make sure you are aware of what’s really going on and what is behind the audit. This will help you anticipate and pre-empt any real issues underlying need for the audit. In my experience, auditing is introduced to projects when organizations are not willing or able to have a real conversation about what is not working. They hope auditing will resolve the problem without them having to do the real work. Usually we already know what is wrong, but our fear of what we have to face, share, or expose leads to use auditing as a shortcut.  So keep your eyes open.

The fallacy of project audits

Whatever you do, see “audit” for what it is and don’t take it personally.  While you cannot stop it, you can educate your sponsors by showing them the cost of compliance so they can be better informed to make decision on the audit’s return of investment.

Remember that audits never measure what is most important for project success. We can’t really audit morale, commitment, discretionary effort, and going beyond the call of duty. We don’t have the tools to measure trust, powerful collaboration, and robust and authentic relationships between the project stakeholders. That, at the end of the day, is what makes projects succeed or fail.

So what’s your take on project audits? I would love your comments.

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.guerrillaprojectmanagement.com/how-not-to-be-intimidated-by-project-audits/trackback