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.
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.
2. Failure to stick to the requirements. Some organizations have a mantra such as “exceeding our customer’s expectations.” Be careful about gold-plating requirements. When we add features the customer did not request, we increase the potential for schedule delays, unnecessary complexity, and higher cost.
Solution: Be a gatekeeper. Don’t tolerate out-of-scope requirements in your projects.
3. Failure to right-size your quality management plan. Some project managers create quality management plans where the costs exceed the benefits. But more often, the plans are inadequate.
Solution: Work with your project team to define a practical approach to managing and controlling quality. In what ways will you ensure continuous process improvement? How will you ensure that the deliverables meet the quality requirements?
"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 -
4. Failure to perform quality assurance. Let’s assume you have a quality management plan. Are you executing the plan? Are you using the standards and processes defined in the plan?
Solution: Have a quality audit performed to evaluate how well the team is following the plan. Are you meeting your customer's expectations?
5. Failure to control quality. To control quality is to ensure the deliverables are correct, that is to say, free of defects. Wise project managers focus on quality from the beginning to the end of their projects.
Solution: Perform walkthroughs and inspections to identify defects. Furthermore, find and correct defects early. Finding defects downstream will be more costly.
6. Failure to improve your requirements management process. Requirements management and quality management go hand in hand. Requirements are an input into quality planning. Clear, well-defined requirements lead to less rework and schedule delays.
Solution: Focus on improving the requirements process—eliciting requirements, analyzing requirements, documenting requirements, and validating requirements. Additionally, consider using a skilled business analyst to facilitate the requirements process.
7. Failure to improve your project management processes. Some project teams fail to develop efficient and effective project processes. The same process mistakes are repeated over and over.
Solution: Conduct lessons learned after project phases and at the completion of the project to evaluate processes such as the requirements process, the design process, the development process, and the testing process.
If you are using an agile approach, conduct retrospectives at the end of each sprint or iteration.
How About You? Improve Project Quality
Which of these mistakes are you and your teams making? Is poor quality causing unnecessary rework? Identify a few items you plan to work on in your current or upcoming projects.
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"Intelligent leadership, creative communication and depth of technical skill all describe Harry Hall." –John Bartuska, Director of HR–ONUG Communications