7 Ways to Improve Project Quality

In this article, I will share how to improve project quality. And when we improve quality, we reduce rework and adverse impacts to our project schedules and budgets. Additionally, we actually meet the needs of our customers and end users.

picture of people working on quality

Project Quality Mistakes and Solutions

Project managers focus on the scope, the schedule, and the cost. However, many fail to give equal consideration to quality. Allow me to share some common mistakes. Furthermore, I will share practical steps to solve these issues. 

1. Failure to define quality. The term ‘quality’ is ambiguous. It means different things to different people. To be sure, it's difficult if not impossible to improve something that is vague and subjective.

The PMBOK Guide – Sixth Edition defines quality as, “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.”

Think in terms of understanding and meeting your stakeholder's expectations. If we partially meet their requirements, we will have some unhappy campers.

Solution: Define the term 'quality' so that your team members understand what it is and how to improve it.

Here's another tip: Define quality fit criteria—a quantification of a requirement that demonstrates the standard the product must reach.

Continue reading

Why Stakeholder Analysis is Important

Project stakeholders are individuals, groups, and organizations that may affect or be affected by your projects. It's critical to understand how people inside and outside your organization may impact your projects. In this post, we will explore why stakeholder analysis is important. Furthermore, I'll provide you with two tools for quick assessments.

picture of project stakeholders in a meeting

Why Analyze Project Stakeholders

Some project managers say they don't have enough time to analyze the stakeholders. That's a mistake!

So, why is it important? The short answer – to determine how to best invest your time and energy.

Stakeholders are NOT the same. Their power, interest, influence, expectations, and impact differ greatly. Consequently, it's important to identify the most influential stakeholders.

Once the key stakeholders are determined, it's time to develop a stakeholder engagement plan and influence them at the right times. Why? To navigate stakeholder-related threats. Furthermore, you can develop the most critical relationships. 

Allow me to introduce you to two powerful tools: the stakeholder classification grids and the stakeholder engagement assessment matrix.

Continue reading

10 Ways to Engage Project Stakeholders

Do you have a stakeholder engagement plan? Have you stopped to think about the diverse needs of your stakeholders? Which stakeholders have the most power and influence? When and how will you engage these people?

Project Stakeholders

What is a Stakeholder Engagement Plan?

The stakeholder engagement plan is "a component of the project management plan that identifies the strategies and actions required to promote productive involvement of stakeholders in project or program decision making and execution (PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition, Page 723)."

Stakeholder engagement includes ways to attract and involve individuals, groups, and organizations who may be affected by a project or may affect the project.

Stakeholder Engagement Plan. A component of the project management plan that identifies the strategies and actions required to promote productive involvement of stakeholders in project or program decision making and execution.

– PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition –

Let’s look at some practical ways that you can better engage and influence your project stakeholders at the right times in your project lifecycle.

10 Ways to Engage Project Stakeholders

  1. Identify stakeholders early. You can’t engage stakeholders until you know who they are. As you are initiating your projects, start identifying your stakeholders. Additionally, create a project stakeholder register.
  2. Get stakeholders talking to one another. I invite key stakeholders to my initial project meetings as we are developing the project charter. I want to surface and resolve conflicts as soon as possible.
  3. Seek to understand before being understood. Steven Covey shared this principle years ago. It still holds true. Furthermore, people want to know that you really want to hear their perspective first.
  4. Listen, really listen. Part of understanding is making time to sit face-to-face, when possible, and truly listen. Ask probing questions.
  5. Lead with integrity. Meaningful engagement requires trust. Say what you mean; mean what you say. And then do what you said you would do.
  6. Engage your stakeholders in the estimates. Ask the people that will do the work for estimates. And help stakeholders to understand that there is greater uncertainty in the early estimates. Commit to providing refined estimates as your projects progress.
  7. Work WITH your team. The best project managers work with their stakeholders to break down their projects into deliverables and tasks. This helps everyone to have a better understanding of the project. Furthermore, stakeholders will more likely support a plan that they helped create.
  8. Manage expectations. Each of your stakeholders has expectations, sometimes false expectations. Working with your team will clarify many of these aspects of the project.
  9. Say thank you. The project managers I enjoy most know two simple words—thank you. When team members and other stakeholders complete activities, respond to emails and voicemails, make you aware of things you didn’t know, respond with thanks.
  10. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Ninety percent of a project manager’s job is communication. Develop and maintain a communications plan. Creative project managers minimize a potential communications breakdown by communicating through a variety of channels, not one or two.

Are You Actually Influencing Your Project Stakeholders?

I recently spoke with a project manager who works in a Project Management Office (PMO). Susan told me how people resist project management in her organization, a story that I've heard countless times.

When I asked, "What are you doing to get support and buy-in?" With a puzzled look, Susan said, "It's always been that way and I doubt it will ever change."

Whether you are leading a PMO, a program, or a challenging project, you may have resigned yourself and feel there's nothing you can do. I encourage you to develop a stakeholder engagement plan.

Identify and assess your stakeholders. Work with others to develop a plan to engage and influence the key stakeholders. And as Winston Churchill said, "Never, never, never give up."

How to Develop a Resource Management Plan

How is it that some coaches, leaders, and yes even project managers can take a rag-tag group and shape them into a high-performing team? How do these individuals secure the physical resources? It’s not an accident. It starts with a resource management plan.

picture of project team

What is a Resource Management Plan?

The resource management plan is "the component of the project management plan that provides guidance on how project resources should be categorized, allocated, managed, and released. It may be divided between the team management plan and physical resource management plan" (PMBOK® Guide—6th Edition, Page 318). 

“The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in conflicting or ambiguous expectations around roles and goals.” —Steven Covey

Human Resource Management Plan

So, what does one include in a human resource management plan? And how do I deal with preassigned resources?

Continue reading

How to Reduce Issues in Scope Management

In this article, I will share three primary issues in scope management–not including all the work, gold plating, and poor alignment with objectives and goals. And, we'll look at solutions for each. First, let's examine what scope management includes.

words: problem solution

"Project Scope Management includes the processes to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully." PMBOK® Guide–Sixth Edition, page 129

Let's break this statement down and examine each element and the potential issues.

Continue reading

How to Identify Scope Risks

If you wish to be a successful project manager, you must manage scope risks. In this article, let's define scope risks, look at some examples, and explore eight ways to identify scope risks.

Hand holding card that says new requirements

What is Scope Risk?

Risk is "an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives" (PMBOK® Guide—6th Edition, Page 720). Scope risks are uncertain events or conditions that are related to the project scope.

What do we mean when we say something is out of scope? It should not be included in the project. Things have a way of sneaking in, don't they? 

Keep in mind, product scope includes the features and functions of the products, services, and results. And project scope is the work required to create the deliverables.

Continue reading

How to Develop a Project Charter

In this post I'm going to show you how to develop a project charter.

In fact, these are the exact techniques that I used to create charters for small-budget to multi-million dollar projects.

Let's kick things off by defining the project charter.

text: how to develop a project charter

What is a Project Charter?

A project charter is a "document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities" (PMBOK® Guide—Sixth Edition. Page 715).

Continue reading

How to Develop a Quality Management Plan

Entering projects with little consideration of quality can be costly in numerous ways. Let's look at the cost of having no quality management plan. Then, we will explore how to develop a practical quality management plan.

chart showing quality and value trends

The Cost of Poor Quality

So, in what ways is poor quality costly?

First, we may not meet the customer's needs and expectations.

Second, the cost of corrective action and defect repair may be higher than expected.

Third, the cost of quality after the project may be higher and may decrease customer confidence.

Fourth, project communication may be more challenging since people expect different things.

Fifth, your team's morale may suffer. Nobody likes missing deadlines due to rework. This is often a result of  poor quality requirements.

The Quality Management Plan

What is Quality?

Let's first define quality. For project management, quality is "the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements" (PMBOK Guide, Page 718)Project managers and teams focus on meeting the customer's needs.

What is a Quality Management Plan?

The quality management plan "is a component of the project management plan that describes how applicable policies, procedures, and guidelines will be implemented to achieve the quality objectives. It describes the activities and resources necessary for the project management team to achieve the quality objectives set for the project" (PMBOK® Guide—6th Edition, Page 286). 

Management develops, publishes, and communicates quality policies. Why? To support the achievement of the organization's objectives and values.

For example, Nestle has a Quality Policy which includes: "Strive for zero defects and no waste by constantly looking for opportunities to apply our continuous improvement approach to deliver competitive advantage."

What if your organization has no formal quality policy?

Nevertheless, wise project managers define the quality requirements. The quality management plan may be a simple one-page plan for small projects and a more robust plan for larger projects. Furthermore, project managers work with their sponsor, team, and key stakeholders to determine what's needed.

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives. —William A. Foster

Click to Tweet

Who Should Develop the Quality Management Plan?

This is determined by the type of project that is being undertaken. A nuclear power plant team will be decidedly different from those helping with the development of an accounts receivable software package. For instance, here are some candidates:

  • Project manager
  • Selected team members
  • Selected stakeholders from quality assurance, legal, and the operations (to name a few)
  • Customer representatives (if the project is being undertaken to create a product or service for a customer)

What Should Be Included?

The Quality Management Plan should be fitting to each project. Only include the elements that are necessary and nothing more. The plan may include but not be limited to:

  • Your approach to quality management
  • The deliverables (i.e., the unique and verifiable products, services, or results) and processes that will be reviewed
  • How the quality requirements will be defined for the deliverables and the processes
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • When and how you will manage quality (i.e., make sure the standards and processes are present)
  • When and how you will control quality (i.e., how the team will evaluate the deliverables)
  • How defects will be prevented and corrected
  • Definitions

It's a good idea to look at prior lessons learned. Additionally, engage your stakeholders in the process to get their input and buy-in.

A Real World Quality Management Plan 

Susie, a project manager, was asked to manage a software development project. She invited her sponsor, the Quality Assurance manager, the lead developer, and business analyst to a meeting. The purpose was to develop the quality management plan.

Susie asked the business analyst to share his recommended approach for developing and managing the requirements. Next, she asked the lead developer about the designs, unit testing, function testing, and integration testing.

Susie invited the QA manager to help determine the testing plans including the individuals who would perform the tests, the order of the tests, the test environments, and the tracking of defects.

Lastly, Susie described a traceability matrix to trace the requirements through each phase of the project. All of this information was captured in a simple quality management plan.

In your next project, think about your approach to quality management. What are one or two steps that you will take to further improve quality?

The Relationship Between Project Risk Management and Project Management

Project management is "the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project objectives" (PMBOK®—6th Edition). So, how does project risk management fit in the world of project management?

project risk management image

Hand in Glove Relationship

Project risk management fits in project management like a hand in glove. Project managers can use it to achieve their project objectives and goals. How?

Good risk management always starts with clear project objectives and goals. That is to say, project managers who manage risks without project objectives as the basis are simply playing games. There is an appearance of risk management but these individuals are simply going through the motions.

Good risk management always starts with clear project objectives and goals. —Harry Hall

Click to Tweet
Continue reading

8 Things All Bad Project Managers Have in Common

Bad project managers create project cultures filled with stress, confusion, and little progress. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are not aware of their behaviors.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

Let's run through a list of eight behaviors that all bad project managers have in common. Furthermore, let's talk about how to remedy these behaviors.

Correct these Project Management Behaviors

1

Too many project meetings

Some project managers keep their team members in meeting prison, and often, the meetings are things that could have been handled in other ways. This behavior leads to frustrated team members who are busy trying to get their project work completed. 


Things to do: Eliminate recurring meetings when possible. Eliminate status meetings - gather status information and share through status reports. Always ask yourself: Is there another way to handle something that does not involve a lengthy meeting? A quick conference call. An email. Instant messenger. A quick stand-up meeting.

Continue reading
1 2 3 22