One of my favorite Broadway musicals is Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Near the end of this retelling of fairy tales—when many things have gone wrong and people have died—the remaining characters gather around and have a conversation (in song, of course) about whose fault it is. One by one, Jack (of beanstalk fame), the Baker, the Witch, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood defend themselves and refuse to take the blame fostered on them by the rest of the group. The song ends with all of them singing to each other:
You're responsible! You're the one to blame! It's your fault!
Clearly, there are no real answers in this story.
Project management should not play out like a Broadway musical. In any project, there is potential for human error. Perhaps someone types incorrect numbers into a spreadsheet, perhaps someone sends someone else the wrong files, perhaps someone approves a change order without first getting proper approval from the appropriate person, or perhaps someone deletes a document or contact record prematurely and doesn’t ‘fess up. Errors don’t have to be intentional to be problematic. There may come a point when something is wrong with the project and it becomes important to know who did what when.
That is when an audit log or audit trail is indispensable. Project Managers who use comprehensive software with audit features, such as the Spitfire Project Management System, need not engage in speculation.
- changes made to contact records, by whom and when,
- changes made to system rules, by whom and when,
- changes made to project documents, by whom and when,
- document approvals, by whom and when,
- changes made to the budget, by whom or what (change order, new subcontract, etc.) and when,
- changes made to other related Microsoft Excel worksheets, by whom and when,
- all documents and files emailed from the system, to whom and when.
In addition, Spitfire keeps all versions of files and identifies which is/was the latest approved version at any given date.
The point of such information is not so much to blame people, but to find out when and where mistakes were introduced, so they can be dealt with. Having audit trail information on hand, a project manager can pinpoint when a financial mistake started, or who needs to get correct files, or who needs to be prevented from approving documents, or what was accidentally deleted and when. Such information also indicates who is not to blame at all.
Aside from the blame game, there are other reasons why having audit trail tracking in a project management system makes sense:
- Companies who advertise the audit tracking features in their system find it serves as a deterrent against actual fraud.
- Knowing that “who did what when” is in the data serves as an incentive to project team members to be mindful when working in the system.
- Well documented records are a necessity if and when government organizations or lawyers challenge your work.
If your project management system does not provide complete audit trails and you’d like to see how the Spitfire Project Management System tracks its data, contact us for a free demo.
There really is no reason to play the blame game.