Typical Quality-Related Challenges

Table of contents:

To both relate some additional experiences that you have endured or observed, and to re-emphasize some of the key points we have covered so far, let's take a quick look at seven common, project quality-related challenges:

  • Forgot to pop the question This problem can be found on projects that are guilty of no organized quality approach and on projects with formal methodology coming out their ears. Always ask the client what "quality" means to him/her. Again, do not assume anything, especially here.
  • "Good intentions, but…" Many projects start off great. The Quality Management Plan is fully developed and approved, but then…nothing. Stuff happens and the quality management procedures are never carried out.
  • "We can't afford it" There is a common misconception in many organizations that quality-focused efforts are overhead and cost too much. This perception originates from two main sources. One, projects in these organizations are likely managed very informally, so to add quality management seems like a major investment. Two, the quality standards seem non-value added. In some cases, this may be true. In either case, better understanding, communication, and salesmanship are needed. The real question to be asked is, "Can you afford not to focus on quality?" Historical data shows that in most cases the cost of poor quality (non-conformance) is much greater than the cost of prevention.
  • Not factored in the schedule Especially on projects where the quality procedures are an after-thought, the actual quality tasks (reviews, audits, and so on) are never factored into the project schedule.
  • Quality resources over-allocated In many project situations, the individuals who are designated for quality assurance roles are also fulfilling other roles. If the quality assurance role was not properly allocated and assigned to project tasks, you may have an over-allocated resource. In this case, or when other pressure events occur, the quality assurance hat is often the first to go for these multi-role team members.
  • "Testing takes more than one cycle?" An age-old dilemma on projects that require one or more testing phases on the targeted product is how much time to allocate for each phase. The common mistake is to officially schedule a testing phase as if it will be completed in the initial test cycle. I have yet to see this happen.
  • Avoid gold-plating Traditionally, gold-plating is a term associated with project scope management, and it refers to the practice of doing more (adding additional features) than what the requirements (specifications) call for without undergoing proper change control procedures. This is also an issue for project quality management for two reasons. One, the gold-plated features may introduce new quality risks into the equation. And two, the gold-plated features may do nothing to improve the actual deliverable quality, yet they can require additional time and costs.
  • No risk analysis While on the one hand, many projects are guilty of not identifying or being aware of the quality standards they are accountable for, there are other projects that blindly accept all of the quality standards without properly assessing the impact to the project objectives and other critical success factors. Always assess the impact of meeting each quality standard, especially the schedule and cost impact. Decisions on priorities and risk response strategies may be needed to deal with the impact.

As we started this chapter, most aspects of managing project quality are interwoven into the fabric of solid project management practices. If you manage with a focus on

  • The customer
  • Requirements/scope
  • Clear communication
  • Clear completion/acceptance criteria
  • Small work packages
  • Prevention
  • Skilled resources and high-performing teams

then your projects will be well-positioned to meet their quality objectives.

The Absolute Minimum

At this point, you should have a solid understanding of the following:

  • The level of quality management should be consistent with client expectations, project needs, and project risk level.
  • Managing project quality is tightly connected with managing requirements, managing project scope, managing project risks, managing suppliers, and managing client expectations.
  • The process of managing project quality allows you to go from identifying customer needs to achieving customer satisfaction.
  • Specifically, project quality procedures answer the question: How do I verify that the work is complete and correct?
  • Quality is doing what you said you would do.
  • Quality management addresses both product (goods and services) quality and project management quality.
  • The project manager has ultimate responsibility for the project quality.
  • Effective quality management is consistent with effective project management.
  • Two key aspects of project quality that are often overlooked are managing the project team and managing requirements.
  • Historically, the costs of prevention are significantly less than the costs of quality defects.
  • Essential tools for project quality management are the Quality Management Plan, checklists, reviews, Requirements Traceability Matrix, audits, verification procedures, and clear completion criteria.
  • Checklists and templates allow quality expectations to be clearly communicated and enforced. They also provide a way to pass along lessons learned from past projects.
  • To ensure overall project quality, ensure each deliverable along the way meets quality expectations.
  • For additional information on quality function deployment visit the Quality Function Deployment Institute at www.qfdi.org.

The map in Figure 15.2 summarizes the main points we reviewed in this chapter.

Figure 15.2. Overview of managing project quality.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169

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