Project Management Institute

Learning Opportunity

Don't Dread The Validation And Verification Process; Use It To Build Knowledge



By Edward B. Farkas, PMP

You just presented the steering committee with a status report on your project. You're feeling great: The project is on schedule, within budget and meeting scope.

But then you hear an independent validation and verification (IV&V) firm has been hired to confirm all the rosy news you just presented. You start to feel nervous. What if you made an error in your estimates? What if they find a major flaw in your project plan and tell the executives at your organization?

The IV&V process—which is expanding beyond government and into commercial firms—can put fear in the heart of a project manager. But it doesn't have to be this way. In fact, the review can be a great learning experience for project professionals.

The IV&V process simply verifies a client is getting what it paid for—ensuring that a project or program is within scope, meets contractual requirements and is delivered on time with as little risk as possible. What makes this different than a typical program or project review is that the IV&V team is independent: It has no loyalty to the sponsor, client, project or project team members, so it can produce unbiased findings.

Typically, the IV&V team works unobtrusively to gain information about the project, provides advance notice of their observations and gives time for you to correct course before the official report is issued. If the project is being well managed, they will be glad to say so. However, if it's not going so well, you'll have the opportunity to learn exactly where it's off track, as well as measures you can take to correct it.


I once led an IV&V team reviewing a US$170 million public works project. The project was four months behind schedule. The agency's project manager had never managed a project of this magnitude, and the assistant project manager was new to the field. My team discovered departures from standard industry practices, explained them to the project team and talked about ways to remediate the issues.

Through this process, the project manager and assistant project manager gained valuable insights into scope management, cost management, procurement, risk management and the monitoring and control of schedules. They were able to turn the project around—the project manager was formally recognized, and the assistant project manager was promoted.

Project managers shouldn't view IV&V as a threat. Being open to learning from their positive and negative findings provides an opportunity for you—and your project team—to eliminate future project obstacles. PM

img Edward B. Farkas, PMP, is managing director of Atlantic Professional Consultants LLC, New York, New York, USA and adjunct professor at Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo, Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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