An oveview of audits
Audits enable senior management to evaluate projects and programmes against pre-agreed criteria. They indicate the level of compliance with procedures and processes and identify areas for improvement or where lessons need to be learned.
Audits benefit the programme or project by providing a health check and recommending actions. Senior management gain an insight into the problems in the business, the level of risk they are facing and the actions that need to be taken. The companies’ clients can gain confidence in the quality of the outputs and visibility of any areas that need to be addressed.
The responsibility for authorising an audit rests with senior management who should ensure that the audit team have a clear brief of the objectives, scope, timings, restrictions and format. The scope may look at the management, status, quality and/or interfaces of a programme or project. In developing the scope the sponsors may consider size, complexity, results of previous audits, frequency of audits, stakeholder interests and the level of change within the organisation.
Typical audits will either look at operational, structural or product compliance. Operational compliance is concerned with process and methodologies and structural with standards and codes of practice. Product compliance assesses products against specifications and may also check against formal standards like ISO
Audits may be carried out internally, by the organisation’s client perhaps as part of a tender evaluation process, or by an independent organisation such as a government, regulatory or accreditation body.
The Project Auditing Process
The audit process with the inputs and outputs at each stage is shown in the table below:
||Stage in the process
Directory of contacts
Roles and responsibilities
|Audit findings with observations and recommended actions.
||Reporting & recomendations
Records of corrective action.
|Audit report and corrective actions.
||Report on progress with further recommended actions or confirmation of completion.
What skills should an Auditor have?
Auditors should be qualified and trained to carry out audits, they should have knowledge of the organisation, programme and project management skills and generic skills in management and leadership.
Developed verbal and written communication skills and excellent interpersonal skills are also essential to support reporting to senior management and the tact and diplomacy required during the audit itself.
Project Audit - references and further reading
The Projects Group PLC, 2006, Change Context
- Revision 4.0.0, Sutton: The Projects Group plc.
Project Management, Planning and Control: Managing Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing Projects to PMI, APM and BSI Standards
Read more on Project Management
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