The project manager should actively monitor progress against the plan and schedule. Where practical, contingency plans should be in place for staff departures, unforeseen leave, system failures, non-delivery of information from external stakeholders and the like.
Better-practice entities should implement some or all of the following:
- track the progress of activities against the schedule, for example check if planned activities, meetings and critical milestones are occurring on time
- as the schedule changes, provide the updated schedule to relevant stakeholders
- provide timely advice and guidance to the finance team and business areas
- build in quality checks, such as reviews of supporting documentation and working papers at critical milestones
- maintain contingency plans such as using back-up and/or temporary staff, or reaching prior agreement with staff to work overtime
- address significant issues promptly, consider their impact and implement corrective action, and
- periodically brief senior management and the audit committee regarding progress against the agreed timetable.
The following sections discuss specific activities that may be required in actioning and monitoring the project plan and/or for the coordination of matters to improve an entity’s ability to prepare financial statements effectively and efficiently.
6.1 Monitoring progress
The project plan and schedule should be monitored closely on an ongoing basis, and progress against the schedule should be regularly reported to the CFO and other members of the finance team. Monitoring should involve the recording of the completion dates for critical events to compare against planned dates and revision of the schedule, as necessary. This captures useful information to inform project scheduling for future years.
The audit committee should be kept informed of progress against the plan on a regular basis and the accountable authority should be periodically briefed, as required.
6.2 Reviewing project risks and treatments
Risks change over time and hence risk management will be most effective where it is dynamic and evolving. Monitoring and review is integral to successful risk management and entities may wish to consider articulating who is responsible for conducting monitoring and review activities. Key objectives of risk monitoring and review include:
- detecting changes in the internal and external environment, including evolving entity objectives and strategies
- identifying new or emerging risks
- ensuring the continued effectiveness and relevance of controls and the implementation of treatment programs
- obtaining further information to improve the understanding and management of already identified risks, and
- analysing and learning lessons from events, including near-misses, successes and failures.