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Project review – part 2

The report

Under PRINCE2® 2009 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] the Project Board is accountable for the success or failure of the project.
[see Organization - The PRINCE2 approach - The project management team - Project Board].

Current project status

All project reviews must be documented.

The aim is not to identify the guilty.
Project management is a difficult job at the best of times and parts of the project will not go according to plan.
The aim of the project review is to bring the Project Manager’s attention to particular issues to aid the smooth running of the project.
It also acts as an additional relief valve for the Project Sponsor in that it may catch issues that slip the net of normal project control.

A project review can be carried out at certain critical milestones as well as on project completion as we have mentioned earlier.
The agenda for the project review will be agreed beforehand and will cover many aspects of the project’s performance.

The term project audit may be reserved for the focus on processes and procedures together with any archiving and control procedures.

For a project review the agenda may cover the success or failure at meeting performance, cost, time and quality targets.
This would be appropriate for milestones as well as at project completion.
The same process could be applied to individual key or critical tasks seeking any underlying reasons for variances and any resulting action points.

Future status

In a similar fashion, the process can examine trends and may see the scale of future deviations in performance, cost, schedule and scope.
In the latter case, the scope is agreed and fixed and can only be changed as a result of impending deviations which cannot be resolved in any other way.

Status of critical tasks

When the work breakdown structure is put together the major project risks will have been identified.
For these contingency plans would have been prepared awaiting a trigger before implementation.

The project review is a good opportunity to summarise these key risk areas and to examine their status once again.
It may be a good idea to arrange a separate meeting to examine the status of risk assessment in more detail.
The results and key actions from this meeting could be presented in the project review meeting.
This may not apply to the review at project completion but would be more useful for milestone reviews.

Risk assessment

When considering the risk status of tasks don’t forget to think about the impact on other projects.
For all risks the likelihood of occurrence and their impact should also be reviewed.

Adverse affects could include increased costs, and project product failure.
Loss of time invariably means increased costs and may affect business reputation.

Information relevant to other projects

Any information derived from the review may have an impact on other projects or elsewhere.
If this is so, ensure that it is communicated to interested parties.
If it is critical do not wait for the circulation of minutes.

Limitations of the review

The scope of the review should be agreed at the start.
The Project Manager should make sure that not only the scope but the output of the review is what he had in mind.
This should be assured by drawing up an agenda at the start.

Remember, that the project will probably extend outside of the immediate organization to contractors and consultants.
The project review process should include these, probably at separate meetings or via a representative reporting on specific aspects of progress.

You may wish to use someone external to the project management team to chair the review if you wish a completely neutral approach.
This would be advisable if initial experience is low.

The reasons for any deviations, together with comment and solutions should be recorded.
Note that the focus is finding the solution to a current issue then finding out the exact reason for the issue.
This will lead to learning from the experience to ensure that it does not happen again.

Record the assumptions in putting the review together.

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