What Is the Difference Between Project Audit and Project Review?

Most beginners in Project Management confuse the terms “project audit” and “project review”, and think they are the same, although they’re not. So what is the difference between a project audit and a project review?

There are several differences between project audits and project reviews, mainly:

  • Project reviews are usually held at the end of each project phase. In most cases, the project review is conducted at the end of the whole project (and in this case it is often referred to as “project post-mortem”). Project audits, on the other hand, can be held at any time during the course of the project, or even after the project is finished (though naturally, performing a post-project audit has no benefits for the project, but may be helpful for future projects).
  • The aim of the project review is to make sure that the project is on time, on schedule, on scope, and on budget, as well as highlighting key issues the project is facing (note that in the case of a project post-mortem, the aim is just to highlight key issues the project has faced, in order to improve the process for next projects). In short, the project review can be labeled as a “project health check”. The project audit is not about the health of the project, but it’s about seeing if the project is being managed properly according to the organization’s standards and guidelines and that the project plan is being followed. The aim of the project audit is to identify any project management errors that may have occurred during the project.
  • Project reviews are performed by the project review board (or PRB). Although there are no defined standards about the constituents of the project review board, it usually includes one or more of the following: project sponsors, program managers, clients, and other project stakeholders. Project audits are performed by the PMO, by internally trained auditors (usually with a Project Management background), or by external auditors provided by specialized Project Management firms.
  • The outcome of the project review is a written document assessing the health of the project, highlighting key situations affecting the deliverables, the budget, and the schedule. This document is sent to the Project Manager, the team members, and other involved stakeholders. The outcome of the project audit is the project audit report, which is sent to both the stakeholders and the Project Manager. The project audit report captures all the project management issues found by the auditor, assigns each a severity (usually from 1 to 10), and suggests a corrective action. Here’s a project audit template (note that this is a Microsoft Excel version, a PDF version is available as well).

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