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what is review in project

The Guide To Project Review in Project Management

  • What is a Project Review?
  • What can we expect from the results of a project evaluation?
  • Initial Project Review
  • Special Review: Non-Compliant Follow-Up
  • Special Review : Stakeholder Requested
  • 1. Determine Review Scope and Objective
  • 2. Preparation Process
  • 3. Interview The Sponsor
  • 4. Interview The Project Manager
  • 5. Interview The Project Stakeholders
  • 6. Analysis Process
  • 7. Draft Review Conclusion
  • 8. Publish The Review
  • Using FoxPlan To Manage Your Project Review Process

To ensure that a project is on track and will achieve its stated goals, senior executives frequently seek assurance. The importance of this becomes significantly greater if the project is critical to the organization and must succeed. This is when Project Review comes into play!

What is a Project Review? #

But first, let’s elaborate the definition of project review. What is a project review?

A Project Review is an evaluation of the current progress of a project at a specific point of the project (milestone). The focus of a project review is the chance of future project success. A project review will provide you with a thorough knowledge of the current status of your project and if it is on track to meet your success criteria.

Project reviews are carried out at the end of phase of project life cycle , such as Initiation, Planning, and Execution stages.

The Advantages of Project Review Process #

There are several advantages when you perform project review properly, such as:

  • You will get a 360-degree perspective of your project’s current status.
  • A project review will provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.
  • You will get a third-party opinion on how likely it is that the project will be successful in terms of project delivery, product or service success, and also business success.
  • You will get better suggestions for how to fix the project problems and challenges that have been found.

What can we expect from the results of a project evaluation? #

The outcome for project review could be all of the following;

  • A current condition summary and assumption list
  • A comprehensive and up-to-date issue list
  • A current risk analysis for risk management process
  • A comprehensive report containing observations and recommended corrective actions
  • Discussion and analysis of the findings and recommended actions

Types of Project Review #

There are at least 4 types of project review, such as Initial Project Review, Completion Review, Special Review for Non-Compliant follow up and Stakeholder Requested review.

Initial Project Review #

The initial plan review will help to verify if the project exceeds the basic requirement for starting a project. This assessment may encompass the following project phases, such as PPI (Project Planning and Initiation), SRA (System Requirement Analysis), TRA (Transition Risk Analysis), etc.

Completion Review #

During the completion review, it will be determined whether or not the project was successful in meeting all of the requirements, sign-offs, and deliverables that were outlined in the project scope , as well as whether or not the project management process was successful in meeting all of the necessary criteria. The Review of Completion will determine whether or not all project technical, financial, and contract closure activities have been correctly executed.

Special Review (RS) #

Special review is similar to completion review. The differences are usually the special review might focus on “at-risk” behaviors, conditions, or work products and it’s usually conducted at the specific point during the project when special review is requested.

Special Review: Non-Compliant Follow-Up #

If a previous assessment concluded that “the project is at risk”, a Non-Compliant review will be held within a month. The type of Non-Compliance review (R1, R2, or R3) determines the (RS) Special Review.

In the event that the non-compliant review was an Initial Project Review (R1), the subsequent Special Review (RS) would investigate the Project Deliverables that were defined in R1.

Special Review : Stakeholder Requested #

Any project stakeholder  in the project, including the Project Manager, has the ability to submit a request for an “ad hoc” or Special Review (RS). The justification for a “ad hoc” review may consist of any of the following:

  • Change in the Project Managers;
  • Serious issues that may affect the project’s capacity to deliver the best possible solutions; and
  • A project that has been classed as a “Non-Compliant Project” and requires a particular finding or issue to be resolved. The detected issue will be reviewed by stakeholders.

This review follows the Project Review format. What deliverables are reviewed depends on the project’s stage.

8 Strategic Steps To Conduct Project Review #

Employing a third party might be costly and may not be feasible for many projects. However, if a company’s PMO is staffed with competent individuals who have proven delivery experience, there is no reason why the PMO cannot conduct the review on behalf of management or senior management. Even more, the PMO can organize peer reviews by reputable, experienced project managers from other projects. These are 8 easy steps to conduct project review!

1. Determine Review Scope and Objective #

Check that the project team and stakeholders understand the review’s objective and scope before moving on. Usually, this will come from the project’s sponsor or top management. This should be done to shed more light on any concerns that prompted the need for the review.

2. Preparation Process #

To ensure that the review is as productive as it possibly can be, preparation is essential, just as it is with anything else. This will include the following:

  • Keeping track of the findings while also ensuring their scope, length, and format.
  • A preliminary reading of the project paperwork, which may include the business case, status reports, etc.
  • Identifying and gaining agreement from stakeholders to conduct interviews.
  • Developing questions to be asked in interviews in order to investigate a theory.
  • Making arrangements for interviews.
  • Developing an initial working hypothesis of the issues.

3. Interview The Sponsor #

It is recommended that the initial interview be with the sponsor of the project . This will make it possible to clarify concerns, provide background information on the project, and comprehend why the project is vital, among other things.

Additionally, it will make it possible to test the hypothesis to determine whether or not it strikes a chord with the sponsor. When there is not a lot of time available and the review needs to be finished in a short amount of time, this step is quite critical. It will guarantee that the review focuses on the areas of concern that need to be addressed.

However, it is important that this meeting, as well as all of the meetings, be attended with an open mind because the sponsor may have overlooked certain aspects or may have a bias.

4. Interview The Project Manager #

This should ideally be the following interview on the agenda after interviewing the sponsor. It will make it possible to look into and test the concerns and hypotheses to see if they are valid. You need to understand that, a defensive project manager is normal. Consequently, you must be persistent and avoid being hostile in your questioning.

The areas of concern where the project manager’s responses contradict the sponsor or documents must be accurately noted so they can be tested with other project stakeholders and team members.

5. Interview The Project Stakeholders #

The remaining sessions should be concluded as soon as feasible, and information obtained in prior meetings should be evaluated. This may provoke further inquiries, necessitating a second meeting with certain parties or certain project stakeholders .

It is essential that, for all meetings, the same questions be asked. Always take meeting notes, and if appropriate, send them to the individual with whom you met. This will allow for the correction of any misunderstandings before the final findings are reached. In addition, it implies that conclusions can be traced back to the facts supporting them.

6. Analysis Process #

After the interviews and cross-checks have been completed, the data are analyzed and compared to the initial concerns and hypotheses. Because of this, draft findings will be able to be documented.

7. Draft Review Conclusion #

Having the sponsor and, if necessary, the project manager examine the draft conclusion is essential. They will be better able to comprehend the findings, as well as the reasoning behind them. In this way, the final paper can be fine-tuned to deliver the message with the best possibility of action. It also provides the opportunity to clarify any issues.

It’s important to note that the conclusions might not be accepted by the project manager or  the sponsor. However, do not alter the findings simply because you are under pressure. By doing so will not assist the project in overcoming potential obstacles, and if the project fails, this will reflect poorly on the review that it failed to spot the problems.

8. Publish The Review #

Finalize the findings in a document, ensuring that it includes a summary that addresses the initial scope review and objective of the review and also highlights high-risk issues. While verifying the concerns or serious risk items is crucial, establishing an action plan for addressing the findings is the most critical thing you can do to make the evaluation truly beneficial.

This will demonstrate a high level of initiative, and it will be warmly accepted by the sponsor as well as senior management because it will make it feasible to solve the issues without any delay. Consultancies have found that employing this strategy to successfully secure subsequent engagements is quite effective.

Using FoxPlan To Manage Your Project Review Process #

It is extremely vital to complete reviews of significant projects, as doing so can help uncover high-risk issues in sufficient time for mitigation to take place.

tasks list and gantt

While you might need a third party or even perform the project review in-house, the use of all-in-one project management software like FoxPlan is necessary to track all the steps for project review and streamline the process of assessment for you.

With FoxPlan , you can list all the steps for project review, set the timeline and keep track of the progress at the same time using the Gantt Chart or even Kanban as it could be customized based on your preference.

So, have you tried FoxPlan before? If you haven’t, you should try FoxPlan for Free! Or contact our representative to experience the best project and portfolio management software in action !

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Project Evaluation Process: Definition, Methods & Steps


Managing a project with copious moving parts can be challenging to say the least, but project evaluation is designed to make the process that much easier. Every project starts with careful planning —t his sets the stage for the execution phase of the project while estimations, plans and schedules guide the project team as they complete tasks and deliverables.

But even with the project evaluation process in place, managing a project successfully is not as simple as it sounds. Project managers need to keep track of costs, tasks and time during the entire project life cycle to make sure everything goes as planned. To do so, they utilize the project evaluation process and make use of project management software to help manage their team’s work in addition to planning and evaluating project performance.

What Is Project Evaluation?

Project evaluation is the process of measuring the success of a project, program or portfolio. This is done by gathering data about the project and using an evaluation method that allows evaluators to find performance improvement opportunities. Project evaluation is also critical to keep stakeholders updated on the project status and any changes that might be required to the budget or schedule.

ProjectManager is a robust project management software that has all of the tracking and reporting features you need for your project evaluation process. Our real-time dashboard allows you to keep track of costs, tasks and budgets and you can create reports in minutes. Get started for free today!

ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard is the perfect tool for project evaluation

Every aspect of the project such as costs, scope, risks or return on investment (ROI) is measured to determine if it’s proceeding as planned. If there are road bumps, this data can inform how projects can improve. Basically, you’re asking the project a series of questions designed to discover what is working, what can be improved and whether the project is useful. Tools such as project dashboards and trackers help in the evaluation process by making key data readily available.

The project evaluation process has been around as long as projects themselves. But when it comes to the science of project management, project evaluation can be broken down into three main types or methods: pre-project evaluation, ongoing evaluation and post-project evaluation. Let’s look at the project evaluation process, what it entails and how you can improve your technique.

Project Evaluation Criteria

The specific details of the project evaluation criteria vary from one project or one organization to another. In general terms, a project evaluation process goes over the project constraints including time, cost, scope, resources, risk and quality. In addition, organizations may add their own business goals, strategic objectives and other metrics.

Project Evaluation Methods

There are three points in a project where evaluation is most needed. While you can evaluate your project at any time, these are points where you should have the process officially scheduled.

1. Pre-Project Evaluation

In a sense, you’re pre-evaluating your project when you write your project charter to pitch to the stakeholders. You cannot effectively plan, staff and control a new project if you’ve first not evaluated it. Pre-project evaluation is the only sure way you can determine the effectiveness of the project before executing it.

what is review in project

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2. Ongoing Project Evaluation

To make sure your project is proceeding as planned and hitting all of the scheduling and budget milestones you’ve set, it’s crucial that you constantly monitor and report on your work in real-time. Only by using project metrics can you measure the success of your project and whether or not you’re meeting the project’s goals and objectives. It’s strongly recommended that you use project management software for real-time and ongoing project evaluation.

3. Post-Project Evaluation

Think of this as a postmortem. Post-project evaluation is when you go through the project’s paperwork, interview the project team and principles and analyze all relevant data so you can understand what worked and what went wrong. Only by developing this clear picture can you resolve issues in upcoming projects.

Project Evaluation Steps

Regardless of when you choose to run a project evaluation, the process always has four phases: planning, implementation, completion and dissemination of reports.

1. Planning

The ultimate goal of this step is to create a project evaluation plan, a document that explains all details of your organization’s project evaluation process. When planning for a project evaluation, it’s important to identify the stakeholders and what their short-and-long-term goals are. You must make sure that your goals and objectives for the project are clear, and it’s critical to have settled on criteria that will tell you whether these goals and objects are being met.

So, you’ll want to write a series of questions to pose to the stakeholders. These queries should include subjects such as the project framework, best practices and metrics that determine success.

By including the stakeholders in your project evaluation plan, you’ll receive direction during the course of the project while simultaneously developing a relationship with the stakeholders. They will get progress reports from you throughout the project’s phases, and by building this initial relationship, you’ll likely earn their belief that you can manage the project to their satisfaction.

2. Implementation

While the project is running, you must monitor all aspects to make sure you’re meeting the schedule and budget. One of the things you should monitor during the project is the percentage completed. This is something you should do when creating status reports and meeting with your team. To make sure you’re on track, hold the team accountable for delivering timely tasks and maintain baseline dates to know when tasks are due.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on quality. It doesn’t matter if you deliver the project within the allotted time frame if the product is poor. Maintain quality reviews, and don’t delegate that responsibility. Instead, take it on yourself.

Maintaining a close relationship with the project budget is just as important as tracking the schedule and quality. Keep an eye on costs. They will fluctuate throughout the project, so don’t panic. However, be transparent if you notice a need growing for more funds. Let your steering committee know as soon as possible, so there are no surprises.

3. Completion

When you’re done with your project, you still have work to do. You’ll want to take the data you gathered in the evaluation and learn from it so you can fix problems that you discovered in the process. Figure out the short- and long-term impacts of what you learned in the evaluation.

4. Reporting and Disseminating

Once the evaluation is complete, you need to record the results. To do so, you’ll create a project evaluation report, a document that provides lessons for the future. Deliver your report to your stakeholders to keep them updated on the project’s progress.

How are you going to disseminate the report? There might be a protocol for this already established in your organization. Perhaps the stakeholders prefer a meeting to get the results face-to-face. Or maybe they prefer PDFs with easy-to-read charts and graphs. Make sure that you know your audience and tailor your report to them.

Benefits of Project Evaluation

Project evaluation is always advisable and it can bring a wide array of benefits to your organization. As noted above, there are many aspects that can be measured through the project evaluation process. It’s up to you and your stakeholders to decide the most critical factors to consider. Here are some of the main benefits of implementing a project evaluation process.

  • Better Project Management: Project evaluation helps you easily find areas of improvement when it comes to managing your costs, tasks, resources and time.
  • Improves Team performance: Project evaluation allows you to keep track of your team’s performance and increases accountability.
  • Better Project Planning: Helps you compare your project baseline against actual project performance for better planning and estimating.
  • Helps with Stakeholder Management: Having a good relationship with stakeholders is key to success as a project manager. Creating a project evaluation report is very important to keep them updated.

How ProjectManager Improves the Project Evaluation Process

To take your project evaluation to the next level, you’ll want ProjectManager , an online work management tool with live dashboards that deliver real-time data so you can monitor what’s happening now as opposed to what happened yesterday.

With ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard, project evaluation is measured in real-time to keep you updated. The numbers are then displayed in colorful graphs and charts. Filter the data to show the data you want or to drill down to get a deeper picture. These graphs and charts can also be shared with a keystroke. You can track workload and tasks, because your team is updating their status in real-time, wherever they are and at whatever time they complete their work.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

Project evaluation with ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard makes it simple to go through the evaluation process during the evolution of the project. It also provides valuable data afterward. The project evaluation process can even be fun, given the right tools. Feel free to use our automated reporting tools to quickly build traditional project reports, allowing you to improve both the accuracy and efficiency of your evaluation process.

ProjectManager's status report filter

ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software that has a suite of powerful tools for every phase of your project, including live dashboards and reporting tools. Our software collects project data in real-time and is constantly being fed information by your team as they progress through their tasks. See how monitoring, evaluation and reporting can be streamlined by taking a free 30-day trial today!

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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what is review in project

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18 November, 2019


Project Management Review: A Guide to Project Audit and Assurance

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By   Mike Clayton

Everyone wants to get their project right. Yet when it comes time for a project audit, we turn our noses up. Yet a project management review is an excellent way to demonstrate your capability and the control you have over your project. It gives assurance to your client, sponsor, and stakeholders. And, it’s a way to learn and give your project and your team a boost towards true excellence.

So, in this article, we’ll be looking at all aspects of project management review – and seeing the different ways people use related terms like project assurance and project audit.

Project Management Review: A Guide to Project Audit and Assurance

We’ll split our article into 6 sections…

  • Project Audit, Project Assurance, Project Review Why we do it and the different forms of project management review.
  • Who are the Players in Your Project Management Review? We’ll look at all three sides of the project assurance process: your Project Team, your Stakeholders, and the project review team.
  • What to Review What are the things you can audit and assess in your project management review?
  • Outcomes from a Project Management Review We’ll see the range of outcomes that will deliver aspects of project assurance, to help you determine what matters for your project review process.
  • How to Run a Project Management Review Process The basics steps for how to conduct your project assurance.
  • Vital criteria for audit credibility
  • Pragmatic advice to make your project management review work effectively

Project Audit, Project Assurance, Project Review

Let’s start by understanding why we need to review our projects.

First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to find issues and challenge the mis-handling of the execution of a project. It is, therefore, a part of the oversight role of project governance.

A project audit will be able to determine the status of work performed by a project and compare it with central planning documents like the statement of work, schedule, and budget.

And finally, project reviews are an opportunity for valuable positive feedback. They also allow the project team and sponsor a chance to see what is working well, and further embed good practices as well as challenge bad ones.

Positive feedback is highly motivating to project team members and can give performace a real boost. A nit-picking approach of focus solely on small, low-significance faults will do nothing to improve performance and much to damage morale.

Three Things We aren’t Talking about…

Number 1…

The first thing we are not talking about explicitly in this article is a Post-Implementation Review.

That said, whether you conduct your project review during or after a project, the process is pretty much the same, so this article will be useful as a basis for planning a post-project review too.

Number 2…

And secondly, we are not talking about the quality processes of Quality Control (QC) or Quality Assurance (QA) .

Number 3…

Finally, we are not talking about Gateway or Stage Gate reviews .

Routine and Remedial Project Reviews

The first distinction to draw among the kinds of project review we are talking about is whether it is routine in nature, or remedial.

Routine Project Reviews

These are part of your project process, or part of the organization’s oversight process. Often they will be built into the scope of services that a Project Management Office (PMO) will provide to the organization

Remedial Project Reviews

The alternative trigger for a project review is when someone within the organization has a concern about a project. They would want the project review to:

  • put their mind at rest, or
  • confirm their suspicions
  • identify appropriate steps to remedy any problems

This situation can arise in a number of ways. For example:

  • Where no mechanism exists for routine reviews, if the Project Board, sponsor, or project team want independent assurance that they are running the project well, they can commission a project audit
  • The project is clearly failing to meet its milestones, deliver to specification, stay on budget, or suffering other problems.
  • The project Board or Sponsor may have concerns that the reports they receive do not accurately represent the status of the project
  • Likewise, other members of the senior management team may be concerned that the Project Board or sponsor may not be overseeing the project diligently

What Would Trigger a Project Audit Review?

Where you have routine project reviews, projects could either be selected at random, as part of a sampling procedure or receive a review as a matter of course at one or more pre-determined points.

But what might trigger a remedial review if no-one noticed a problem? It can make sense to develop a list of criteria that would trigger an audit. These could identify projects that need additional scrutiny as a result of:

  • Value or cost, and the past “record of results” of the performing organization.
  • Slippage of key indicators (like spending or schedule)
  • Stakeholder complaints
  • Quality Assurance or Quality Control failures

Three Terms – Multiple meanings

This brings us on to the terms Project Audit, Project Review, and Project Assurance. There is no consensus out there that I can find on definitive uses of these terms nor consistent distinctions between them.

Form these different usages, I will define ours.

And then I’ll abandon the definitions and use them all interchangeably!

Standards Organizations

What matters is that you recognize the different elements that are encompassed by these terms, and also that you can be sensitive to how they are used in your organization. Note, by the way, that PMI has no coverage of these ideas in its Project Management Body of Knowledge 6th edition (the PMBOK Guide).

PRINCE2 talks about Assurance, but in far more general terms. Only the Association for Project Management addresses the topic head-on in its APM Body of Knowledge 7th Edition, the APMBoK.

Project Audit

For me, Project Audit focuses on the status of the project, looking at things like:

  • delivery performance
  • cost against budget
  • progress against schedule
  • clearance of risks and issues

As such, it is often a leading indicator of the extent to which a project can achieve its time, cost, quality, scope, and benefit objectives.

The other aspect of the word ‘audit’ that is important is that of independence. APM says:

A key principle is that the auditor is independent of the area being audited. Auditors are often deployed from a project, programme, or portfolio management office (PMO), from a wider organisational internal audit function or from a third party provider (typically, a consultancy or an accreditation body). APM Body of Knowledge, 7th Edition, Association for Project Management, 2019.

Project Review

A Project Review typically has more of a focus on the project process, and the conduct of the project. Its emphasis is on learning and documenting lessons that can improve practices on the project and on future projects. You could therefore call it a Project Implementation Review.

At its most sophisticated, a project review can look at the maturity of the project management practices against an agreed Project management Maturity Model.

Also, from APM’s definition of project audit, we might reasonably infer that project reviews may be carried out by people close to – or even a part of – the project team.

Project Assurance

I take project assurance to be a wider term, encompassing all activities that give the sponsoring organization comfort about the conduct of a project. It would therefore take in both:

  • How the project manager and their team are carrying out the project, and
  • The status of the project in terms of measurable performance

Again, this is consistent with APM view:

Assurance is the process of providing confidence to stakeholders that projects, programmes and portfolios will achieve their objectives and realise their benefits. Assurance focuses on ensuring that the governane, processes and controls that are planned are fit for purpose, and that they are implemented as planned. APM Body of Knowledge, 7th Edition, Association for Project Management, 2019.

Who are the Players in Your Project Management Review?

There are three tiers of players in the Project Assurance Process.

Three Tiers of Players - Project Management Review

The Project

The players here are:

  • Project Board members (and the Project Board as a group)
  • Sponsor or Senior Responsible Officer (SRO)
  • Project Manager
  • Workstream or Team Leaders
  • Project Team Members

The Stakeholders

My goodness, there are a lot of potential stakeholders. Some of the commonly occurring important (to the project review process) stakeholders are:

  • Users, customers, clients
  • Suppliers, contractors, logistics
  • Organizational senior management and non-executives
  • Organizational governance and compliance, like Health & Safety, or equalities
  • Local community

The Reviewers

The project assurance team – whether internal or external to the project.

What to Review

Whilst a project management review could be all-encompassing, that can sometimes involve too great a resource commitment. It can be more efficient to focus your audit processes on one or more principal aspects of your project.

If the review is remedial, these would reflect the known concerns. If it is routine, you would only widen the review if findings indicated a need. Aspects include:

  • Cost, or budget
  • Time, or Schedule
  • Personnel, or Human Resources
  • Communication and Relationships with Stakeholders
  • Information, Learning, Document Management
  • Project Management Process
  • Software tool integrity

Outcomes from a Project Management Review

One of the first questions to answer is: ‘so what?’

There is no point in conducting any form of review unless you intend to use the knowledge and insights it generates. So, before you carry out a review – indeed, before ever commission one – ask yourself:

What will we do with the findings of the review?

Typical outcomes you can expect range from:

  • the project is failing utterly to deliver value and is being grossly mismanaged, so should be closed down immediately, to
  • this project is a shining example of how a project should be, with exemplary practices leading to outstanding delivery performance

In reality, most findings will lie somewhere between these. But you must have a mechanism to handle findings anywhere in that range.

Preparing For Recommendations

In particular, you need to think through questions like:

  • Who will be sponsor for the review and ensure the organization receives and acts upon its report?
  • What resources could be made available to implement significant findings?
  • What mechanisms do you have, to recognize high performance levels from teams and individuals?
  • To what extent are you able to make significant changes to the project mid-stream – and whose authority would you need?

How to Run a Project Management Review Process

Let’s get to practicalities and look at the basic steps for running a project review. I have gone for a simple Five Step Process:


As with any project, start with generating agreement around the scope and objectives for the review. The previous section on outcomes will also be relevant here.

Before you get into the detailed planning and preparation, there are three ther things to consider:

  • Success criteria to measure project against
  • Format for reporting findings
  • Review team

Review Team

I’d certainly recommended you use an external facilitator to lead your project review. Ideally the team would all be independent of the project. This has the twin benefits of:

  • objectivity
  • confidentiality

The latter means disgruntled or genuinely concerned staff and stakeholders are far more likely to speak freely to the review team.

Planning and Preparation

You will need to plan your review and research interviews with two things in mind. You will need to gather both:

  • Data and objective evidence
  • Opinions and perceptive evidence

Here are the main things you’ll need to cover in your planning:

  • Identify project team members and stakeholders to interview
  • Schedule interviews and arrange where to hold them
  • Create interview format and draft core interview questions
  • Create a list of documents and evidence to gather
  • Allocate roles to review team members
  • Finally, review core project documentation: Definition, Planning Documents, Business Case, Status Reports, etc. Some would consider this the first part of the…

Assuming you are familiar with the core project information, the meat of your investigation will be interviews with:

  • Project Sponsor (and other project Board members)
  • one-to-one interviews (of a sample)
  • small group facilitated discussions
  • questionnaires – these can be used either in advance of face-to-face approaches, or in addition, to widen your data pool without over-stretch resources
  • questionnaires (as above)

Sequence of Interviews

Some people take the view that you should work down the list in the order I have presented it above (‘top-down’). This allows you to assess the perceptions of senior players and then test them with the people doing the detailed work, and finally with the stakeholders.

The alternative is to work in the opposite direction, to learn how stakeholders and team members perceive the project. Then to see how the perception of increasingly senior people matches up to that reality. This is a ‘bottom-up’ approach.

The latter approach can be more adversarial. So, my own preference is to start top-down, but reserve the right to meet again with senior people if you discover mismatches that you want to explore with them further.

Carry out a full review of the documentary evidence you have gathered. This can include:

  • Project organization chart
  • Definition documents and project mandates
  • Business requirements and functional specifications
  • Project planning documents
  • Status reports
  • Budgets and financial reports
  • Tender and procurement documentation
  • Meeting minutes and action items
  • Quality (QC and QA) documentation
  • Risk and issue logs
  • Communications logs
  • Change logs

Collate what you learned and look for patterns and exceptions. Index and store original copies of interview records.

From the information you have, you can:

  • Identify key findings of fact
  • Agree interpretational findings
  • Look for causes of issues and problems
  • Also look for opportunities for positive improvement
  • Above all, seek out success stories and cause for praise and recognition
  • Formulate recommendations

Your report will contain your findings and your conclusions.

Document and prioritize your findings and recommendations. I’d also suggest you allocate priorities to each, using a simple system like High-Medium-Low or Red-Amber-Green .


Remember to give credit and praise where it is due.

Many organizations prefer to present findings along with an overall score for one or both of:

  • Project status How well it matches where it should be according to an approved plan
  • Project process How wee the project management process conforms to the practices and procedures that the organization considers appropriate

Whilst a RAG status can work, I prefer something more acutely attuned to the impact of the findings. A framework like this can work well, if you adapt it to fit your organization’s culture:

  • Critical Concerns The review has found serious failings in either process or outcomes
  • Significant Concerns Material issues that need attention
  • Satisfactory The project process/outcomes meet minimum standards, but substantial recommendations remain
  • Good No significant concerns – processes are in line with good practice and outcomes are consistent with the plan
  • Excellent —  the The project process represents best practice and outcomes are in line or ahead of all planning expectations

Typically, this is where the project management review process starts to become political. How, where, and to whom you present your findings will be a matter of policy and practice, culture, and political judgment.

Remember the vital importance of transparency: an audit document that is swept under the corporate carpet is nothing more than a deceit. A good project audit process must have a mechanism for raising an alert at the highest levels of the organization.

Determine a follow-up régime to ensure that the project team acts on the recommendations you make in your report.

Ensure that the final report and the record of follow-up becomes part of the formal record of your project, according to your internal procedures.

The Secrets of Success

The first element of success are less ‘secrets’ and more essential criteria.

Essential Criteria for Audit Integrity

Independence and objectivity.

True audit needs the ability to seek out findings without fear or favor.

Senior-level and Institutional Enterprise Support

Both the audit process and the implementation of any findings need full organizational commitment to provide adequate resourcing. this means people, materials, time, and budget.

But the starting point for enterprise support is a clear intent to pay attention to the project management review results… and act on them.

Alignment to the Enterprise Processes

Any form of assurance process, whether project assurance or full audit must not be just a check-box activity. And neither must it be purely about holding people to account in an adversarial manner.

Rather, it must be part of the business cycle and integrated into all organizational processes.


Finally, the methodology must be publicly available. This means either working from a standard process, or the review team publishing their process.

And, of course, the team needs a mechanism to publish its findings to an appropriate audience.

Practical Advice for Effective Project Management Reviews

Finally, I’d like to offer some practical tips from my experience of carrying out project management reviews of other project managers’ projects, as a senior project manager.

Tip 1: Anything Else?

Whatever questions you have in any structured interview, your last questions should always be:

Is there anything else you think I need to know, which we haven’t covered?

This is the question that allows for the fact that, in preparing for your meeting, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Tip 2: The Secret is in the Process

As with so many things, success will flow from a good process, executed well. Once you have worked diligently to design an appropriate project review process (or adapt an existing one to the circumstances), trust that process.

Tip 3: Start with the Data

Always start with the data and draw conclusions from it. Never start with a hypothesis and look for data to support it. If you must start with an hypothesis, then look for evidence to falsify it, and then find a new hypothesis that fits the data you have.

Tip 4: Checklists Prevent Mistakes and Templates Make your life easy

Regular readers will know how fond I am of a ‘checklist and template’ approach. I’ll be working on additional content for our Project Management Template Kit and Project Management Checklists , to support the Project review process. We also sell a super-value Productivity Bundle with both packs at a reduced price.

What Are Your Thoughts About the Project management Review Process?

I’m interested in your experience. How do you define project review, project assurance, or project audit, and what have you learned for making them effective processes. Please leave your comments below and I’ll look forward to reading them and responding.

Project Management Review: A Guide to Project Audit and Assurance

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