Review of mechanics of project assurance review

PMO Quality Assurance part 4 – mechanics of the QA review

A quick recap.  In this series of posts on PMO Quality Assurance (QA), it has covered the following steps:

This post will cover the mechanics of conducting the PMO QA review to ensure that the time is well spent.

Preparation

The right preparation is very important.  Without it, the review will be ineffective and you will not be able to compare and rate projects on a like for like basis.  Before the review you will need:

Questions: A set of questions designed to investigate and test the project.  These should be aligned to appropriate dimensions of the project i.e. Strategy, Governance, Planning, RAIDs Management, etc

Rating Criteria: You should define a rating criteria for each question so as to achieve common scoring across all projects.  It is a good idea to use numbers to allow for a calculation of value against each dimension of the project.

Weighting: Certain aspects of delivery will be more important than others.  Therefore, the response to the question should carry more weight.  Use of a weighting system will make the results more meaningful for identifying important risks.

Scoring: An scoring system is required so that the results to all the questions can be rolled up to an overall rating.  This is typically 1 to 5, with 1 meaning the project is well set-up to 5 meaning there are serious weaknesses threatening delivery.

Recommendations Log: A log is required to record all the risks identified and proposed recommendations.

QA Report: A standard report should be designed with single executive summary page to communicate the findings of the review.

Conducting the Review

When conducting the review, make sure you do not approach it as an audit.  This will make the meeting adveseral and will mean the project manager will be conservative with the truth.  The objective of the review is for the PMO and project manager to work together to identify areas of concern so that they can be addressed so as to improve the probability of successful delivery.

Work through the questions with the project manager and jointly come to agreement on the value.  Make sure that additional notes are captured where required, as you go through the questions it will raise items for further investigation.  Important: make sure that you do not give in on points of concern – strive for an accurate evaluation.  Where appropriate ask for evidence (in a nice way).  It is all well and good that the project manager answers the plan is updated, however, can they show you an updated plan?

Document Results

It is a good idea to design a questionnaire that allows for the results to be captured for each question (including additional notes) during the interview with the project manager.  This should it make it easier to document the results.

Always review the results with the project manager to ensure accuracy before publishing to senior management and other stakeholders.

Track Closure of Recommendations

Where areas of weakness have been identified, agree a plan with the project manager of actions to remediate.  Then track progress to ensure that the items are closed.  If you don’t the value of the review is wasted.

Conclusion

The above provides the mechanics for the QA review.  Remember, it is not an audit, you are not trying to catch the project manager out.  The aim is to identify weaknesses so that they can be addressed in good time to give the project the best chance of successful delivery.  When you have identified weaknesses agree the action to be taken and track progress.  Then you will gain a lot of value from the QA review process.

Quality Assurance Resources

Quality Assurance FrameworkIf you would like to accelerate the implementation of a project quality assurance process, you may be interested in the Quality Assurance Framework by PM Majik.

This framework provides all of the tools, templates and guides to implement a project quality assurance process and executive reporting.  The assurance review teamplate comes pre-populated with 120 ready to use review questions!

For more information visit Quality Assurance Framework.