7.4. Monitoring Quality
Once you've planned quality right into the project, your job as IT project manager is to manage and monitor quality while the project is underway. Some project management systems call this stage quality assurance (QA). In later chapters, we'll discuss managing the project once it gets started and the processes and procedures you defined in all the steps leading up to that point will come into play. We'll mention some of the tools you'll be using to monitor quality in your project, but we won't go into detail at this point to avoid redundancy. Look for these topics in later chapters.
7.4.1. Quality Management Plan
As the project gets underway, the quality management plan is one of the inputs to this phase as part of the overall project plan. The quality management plan describes how quality will be planned, monitored, and tested, so it should be available throughout the project life cycle.
7.4.2. Quality Metrics
We discussed quality metrics earlier and defined them as those specific, measurable items that define the level of required quality and the measurements used to validate those levels. These should be used during the management of the project and may also be used as part of the completion criteria for tasks that we'll discuss in Chapter 9.
7.4.3. Project Processes and Procedures
The processes and procedures you defined in Chapter 6 are an integral part of managing quality during the project work. Defined processes and procedures help you and the project team keep track of key data, metrics, results, and issues. Without well defined, easy-to-use processes and procedures, the quality of the project is at risk due to errors, oversights, and omissions. Quality can also suffer if there are too many useless, confusing, or contradictory processes and procedures in place because the project team may spend more time on procedure than on making sure they deliver quality results. Quality auditing may be a process or procedure in place at your company through an existing quality management program or through other means. If so, your quality auditing procedures may include process auditing to ensure that the processes used generate the required quality.
7.4.4. Status Reporting
Status reporting is another element that can assist in managing quality during the project. Understanding actual versus planned performance helps you and the project team make needed corrections during the project to ensure quality metrics and requirements are met. This information can also be useful during a post-project audit to locate the source of quality problems that might surface after the project's completion.
7.4.5. Issue Tracking
Issue tracking is critical to project quality because issues, by definition, put the project at risk. Anytime the project is at risk, the project quality is at risk as well. Tracking issues is not just a matter of defining what constitutes an issue and making a note of issues as they arise. In order to deliver a quality project result, you also need to effectively manage issues. That means that someone must be assigned as the owner so the issue is tracked, researched, analyzed, and resolved in a timely and reasonable manner. Issues that just get left behind in the logbook are quality problems in the making. An effective issue tracking system is critical to project quality.
7.4.6. Change Management
In Chapter 6, we discussed change management and the importance of developing a change management process that helps you manage change requests for the project. All requests for modification scope, time, cost, quality, or work methods should be analyzed for their effect on the project and in particular, their effect on project quality. All changes requests should be formally documented and submitted to the IT project manager. The project team should discuss the requested changes to determine the impact on the project and the benefits and risks of implementing the change. If the change is agreed to, it should be incorporated into the project plan. Any elements of the quality plan impacted by the change should be updated as well, including testing specifications for the changed elements. One last note about change management: poor change management almost always results in poor project quality. If you don't maintain control over the project's scope, time, budget, quality, and tasks, you have little chance of turning in a successful project.