A paper presented to the International Seminar on Project Management for Developing Countries, September 4 to 6, 1991, in New Delhi, India. The audience was made up of mostly construction people, but much of the following content could equally apply to large projects in other areas of application.

Executive Summary  | Index | Part 1 | Part 2 | Conclusions | References

How Thorough?

The decision to spend time and money on additional management activity such as PMA is a crucial one. Sometimes the response is that the organization already has a financial audit process in place, and that this should be sufficient. However, the financial audit concentrates on the use and preservation of the organization's assets in accounting terms, and so is principally historically oriented. Remember that little can be done to change the past, other than to apportion blame, so that the financial audit can be very intimidating. In contrast, the project management appraisal is broader in scope, more forward looking, supportive and success oriented.

The intent of the PMA should be to avoid unwanted and unnecessary costs in the future. Since avoided costs do not show up in normal accounting procedures, it is often difficult to justify this additional expenditure until management knows that it is already in trouble! Nevertheless, deliberate steps can be taken to ensure concentration on the relevant issues of the investigation, while avoiding those that are trivial.

The actual extent of an enquiry will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • The size and complexity of the project
  • Whether or not previous enquiries have already been conducted
  • The extent of the concern that management has with the project
  • How long the project has been running, and how much longer it is expected to take to complete.

As noted earlier, the difficulty with any kind of scrutiny, particularly a formal audit, is that the process can be intimidating to those responsible for running the project. This is particularly true if the checkup is not carried out with the right motives, or is not conducted professionally and with integrity. Such an enquiry may then prove to be more disruptive than beneficial.

Thus, it is critical to the success of a PMA that it be structured on the basis of serving to improve the probability of success of the project, rather than simply finding fault and pointing the finger at those responsible.

On which Projects Should PMA be Conducted?  On which Projects Should PMA be Conducted?

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