Transparency in Project Management

There is an old adage, knowledge is power, and rarely is this truer than when it applies to managing and controlling projects.

The more knowledge someone has about the status of a project, the easier it is to make a decision. In general, if transparency is lacking on a project, problems lurk and project management needs to investigate. A well-designed project management system will allow for transparency from its inception.

Status Visibility

At the lowest levels of a project, visibility regarding Requests For Information, submittals or pay requests allows submitters to have confidence about the status of their request and to pinpoint responsibilities. For example, permitting access to the system from a mobile device allows real-time updates from field staff not needing to be desk bound.

A well-designed project management system will allow for transparency from its inception.

Having transparency on a pay request, as another example, allows a contractor to know where they need to follow up for payment. Should they contact the main contractor or the project manager? Perhaps the payment is approved and in finance, waiting for the check to be cut? The same transparency, particularly within the project cost controls, allows those with budget responsibility to know where they are on a minute-to-minute basis, the value of outstanding invoices, potential and approved change orders and the status of every financial line item as costs are allocated against them. Of course, appropriate permissions need to be set up, since typically not everyone involved in a project is sanctioned to see everything.

Auditing

This same transparency also works when a project is in an audit stage. Audits are time consuming, particularly when public money is involved, and they never seem to occur at convenient times. Adding to the inconvenience of the audit itself, much time is expended locating records and getting them in order prior to the audit. An old-fashioned audit would require participants to talk through the project in order to demonstrate that correct procedures have been followed.

A good project management system will match the project controls processes in the way an organization does (or wants to do) business.

A good project management system will match the project controls processes in the way an organization does (or wants to do) business. This, in turn, will help guide users to do what they are required to do, and highlight through an audit process how well an organization’s business model is working, as users may have found a better (or easier) way of doing things outside of the implemented processes.

If an electronic project management system is used, an auditor can be given appropriate access permissions to see all applicable records. Audits can then occur, with minimum disruption to project teams at a time that is convenient for the auditor, who only calls on the project team if there is a discrepancy. This same access concept can be applied to public records, allowing public agencies to provide a more efficient service to their constituents.  

Project Reporting

The auditor must also have confidence that the records within the system are accurate. This can be ensured by using a data-based project management system that keeps audit logs of all changes made. The auditor can also be sure that all records are in the system, if language in the project contracts requires all parties to use the system and also specifies that project leadership doesn’t venture beyond the system.

Usage of the system should be a priority for project leadership as, typically, project status reports for their executive sponsors can take a week or more to pull together from disparate sources and be out of date when they are completed. By keeping all project information in the system, automated reports can be emailed in a timely fashion, i.e., during the required reporting period. Dashboards, too, can be updated or produced for the project sponsors or other executives based on up-to-date, accurate information and tailored to the needs of each recipient.

By providing a project management system that allows transparency everyone benefits, from those working on the project to those sponsoring the project, to those auditing it.

By providing a project management system that allows transparency everyone benefits, from those working on the project to those sponsoring the project, to those auditing it. Transparency with appropriate permissions in a project management system saves everyone on the project time and money.

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