How to Do a Project Audit: A Quick Guide


Conducting a project audit is an important aspect of managing projects, but often one that is neglected. Read on as we explain what a project management audit is and show you in a few simple steps how to do one yourself.

Let’s start with a definition of the word audit. In its general sense, audit is a verb that means to inspect, examine, check, assess, review or analyze. Now that is not so different from what a project manager does all the time.

What Is a Project Audit?

A project management audit is a bit different than the general definition of the audit. First off, in this context, it’s a noun that means an independent, structured assessment. The audit process is designed to determine the status of work performed on a project to ensure it complies with the statement of work, such as the scope, time and budget of the project, along with the maturity of the project management process.

There are many ways to do a project management audit. Project management software can help gather important data. ProjectManager is online project management software that delivers real-time data to help you make more insightful audits. Use our one-click reporting tools to capture the large picture with project status reports or portfolio status reports. You can also focus on time, cost, workload, timesheets and more. All reports can be customized to focus on what you want to see and then easily shared with stakeholders. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's status report filter, ideal for conducting a project audit
ProjectManager has real-time reporting tools to help you audit projects. Learn more

What Should You Look for When Doing a Project Management Audit?

There are many things that’ll help inform your project management edit. Here’s a list of what you should be reviewing when auditing your project.

  • Project scope: The project scope describes all the tasks and deliverables that should be completed. The project scope is defined in documents like the scope statement and a statement of work.
  • Project schedule: This will help you determine if work was done as scheduled and if you met your deadlines and milestones.
  • Project quality: Every project has quality expectations that must be met to satisfy the stakeholders and so these must be audited as well.
  • Project costs: Here you can compare your actual costs to the budget to make sure you brought the project in without overspending.
  • Project resources: Look over the resources that were used in the execution of the project to make sure they were used and used correctly.
  • Project risks: Do all the project risks that were expected to occur show up as issues? Note which did and which did not.

Video: How to Plan a Project Audit

Need more tips for executing your project management audit? Watch Jennifer Bridges, PMP, as she walks you through the steps to auditing your next project.

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Pro tip: A project management audit is a critical method of making sure that you’re running the tightest project possible. However, there are other complementary ways to help with project efficiencies, such as hiring a project analyst to work with the project manager to help perform analytical tasks.

The Project Management Audit Process

  • Plan the audit: You shouldn’t start anything without a plan. Let everyone involved in the audit and the project know about the audit, and stress that this isn’t anything scary. It’s a method to make things work better, not lay blame.
  • Conduct the audit: Now do the audit and work through a thorough process to get all the data and proof. This includes interviewing the project sponsor, manager and team, either in person, in a group meeting or through a detailed questionnaire.
  • Summarize the audit: At this point, you’ll have lots of data; so take these findings of improvements and faults, and put them in an executive summary to give a clear and broad overview. Be sure to point out and praise those who have done well.
  • Present the results: Next, you want to present that summary of results to all parties that need to know about the audit, from your team to your stakeholders. At this point, you’ll want to identify opportunities that have been realized and implemented, as well as a list of all the problems that have and haven’t been resolved. Also, share recommendations.
  • Determine the action plan: With this data, you can now develop a plan of action that’ll help improve efficiencies. Get people involved and set that course with assignments and due dates. Use all the records collected during the interviews, meetings or via questionnaire and define the solution. This will be submitted to senior management.
  • Schedule follow-up: Don’t let this action plan go unattended. Go back to it and make sure the plan is progressing on schedule.
  • Repeat: This is a list that should be designed in a circle because you can never sit back and become complacent. The more audits you do, the more efficiencies you’ll create.

How to Report the Findings of Your Project Audit

There’s a lot of information that goes into a project audit. Here are a few of the documents that deliver that data.

Project Status Report

A project status report captures a snapshot of the project over a period of time. It’s used to regularly track and communicate the progress and performance of the project.

Project Progress Report

The project progress report is also a record of the project over a specific range of time. But unlike the more expansive status report, this only focuses on progress.

Risk Register

The risk register summarizes the risks that might impact the project. This document will identify risks, but also determine what the priority should be in responding to them according to the likelihood of them occurring and the impact they might have on the project.

Cost Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis compares the costs and benefits of the project in terms of monetary units. This is usually done prior to starting the project to see if it’s worth the investment or not.

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Project Budget Template

Use this free Project Budget Template for Excel to manage your projects better.

Project Variance Report

Project variance is the difference between what was planned and what actually occurred. This can be applied to the schedule and budget to see if you’re keeping to both. And, if not, then you can set in place actions to right those wrongs.

Why Should You Do a Project Audit?

We’re constantly auditing the health of our project, its financial well-being, the schedule and our timeliness in completing it, as well as the equipment and tools we’re using in the project.

Why do we do this? Well, for many reasons. One, it helps to understand where we are compared to where we should be in the project. Auditing lets us know if things are okay and are performing as planned. It also tells us if we’re safe to go on and if things are improving.

Who’s Involved In a Project Management Audit?

Every organization is different and therefore every project management audit is going to have differences depending on the project-related processes they use. For example, there’s the budget, which will include those managers involved in this process, depending on the size of the organization.

Regardless of the size of your organization, a project management audit is likely to be led by the project manager and include all project team members. It can also include anyone who interfaced with the project, no matter in what capacity, such as vendors and stakeholders. This provides different perspectives, which gives a fuller, more accurate picture.

The discipline of a project management audit is not the same as managing a project. Though it’s a project, too, sometimes it is better to leave it in the hands of a dispassionate third party. An outside contractor can run through the process with more authority due to their experience and not be prejudiced by closeness to the project.

Benefits of Project Management Audit

One of the main reasons to do a project management audit is to ensure that you’re compliant with whatever governing regulations your project is subject to, depending on the industry, such as HIPAA, GDR, FAA, FTC, etc.

It also helps to find gaps or reasons for any project failures or errors. On the flip side of this, it will also discover any areas for efficiencies concerning time, money and effort.

But you must know your specific objectives, as they are not necessarily the same from project to project and organization to organization. There are many questions to consider during an audit, such as why are you engaged in the project, and what results are you seeking?

The project management audit at the top level asks, who does what, when and where, and how can it be improved. Well, improvement always comes through the process. By going through each task and auditing it, you can begin a thorough audit of the entire project.

How ProjectManager Can Help with Project Audits

ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you plan, execute and track your project through every phase, and it can be a valuable tool for your project management audit, too.

One-click reports provide a detailed picture of your project and how it adhered to or diverted from your plan. Reports can be filtered to show just the data you want and then easily shared among management. Our real-time dashboard not only tracks progress during the project but also provides color graphs and charts that make it easy to digest project metrics.

ProjectManager's dashboards are ideal to perform a project audit

When you’re done gathering and reporting data and ready to start an action plan, our online Gantt chart takes your tasks and sets them across a timeline. You can now set duration, assign team members who can collaborate at the task level, add documents and comment.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart with task info, the perfect tool for a project audit

ProjectManager has you covered before, during and after the project. See how it can help you deliver your next project more productively by taking this free 30-day trial.

So if you need a tool that can help you with your project management audit, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.