As a project manager you’ve probably been the subject of a project audit. And if you haven’t, give it time. Being audited in any capacity is a less than desirable experience but if you’re being disciplined and following rigor, you should be prepared at any time to successfully pass an audit from your PMO. Here are some tips and tricks to making sure your project is always “audit-ready”.
Organize Your Project Documents
Nothing will get you a failing audit faster than missing documents, especially those with a signature on them. One of the first things you should be doing as a project manager is to set up a document repository that is not only well organized but easy enough to navigate for yourself, your team and your client to view, edit and store documents. Signoffs absolutely need to be maintained in your document repository and organized (and named) in a fashion that is conducive to easy searching and retrieval. If your project is being audited, the auditor will have a very keen interest in reviewing the documentation for your project so your documents should be in order. Good habits, discipline and some organization will set you on the right path for keeping your documents well organized.
Know Your Numbers & Your Scope
Besides documentation, project auditors love to test a project manager’s knowledge of their budget and their scope. These are two fundamental aspects of project management that can easily expose organizations if not managed properly so you can imagine why these are of great interest to project auditors. Present a thorough understanding of your budget to the auditor – know your pricing, your billing model, your actuals, your remaining, your ETC (and EAC). Prove that you are intimately familiar with your budget and your auditor will be pleased. When it comes to scope, you as the project manager need to be aware of what it is that your project team is committed to delivering by the terms of the contract, what the customer is expecting, any gaps that exist in between the two and how those gaps are addressed (change orders, written acknowledgement of scope gaps, proof of ongoing discussion about scope gaps, etc.). Understand what you are on the hook for delivering, prove that you’ve delivered nothing more without proper authorization (either a signed change order or in writing from a project signatory in your organization).
Project audits are nothing new, and (usually) nothing fun. But being a good project manager also means always having your project in a state of being audit-ready. Focusing in on making sure you are prepared in these two areas won’t guarantee project audit success as there are multiple other factors to consider but making sure you have a good (and factual) story to tell will set you up to show the project auditor that you are doing all the right things.