The negotiation of a quality agreement provides a process for defining the quality expectations of the stakeholders, and it also is a critical process in understanding and improving the project estimation and risk management processes.
Put simply, the higher the quality expectation, the higher the costs and risks of the project will be.
The Impact of Quality
Let's assume that you have negotiated with your stakeholders that, for their project, conformity , reliability, and job impact are the only mandatory attributes. Clearly, you would take these attributes into consideration when the RAP session undertakes project risk assessment and estimation. However, during the project, your critical stakeholder group decides that usability is also important. Clearly, the impact of this change in the quality agreement is significant. Experience has shown that adding usability to the expectations could double the effort and cost of the project. In addition, you may need to recruit a new team member who is an expert in GUIs and the relevant technical tools. This results in a higher level of project risk.
The Hot Buttons
Experience and some supportive data from Capers Jones (1994) have shown that the following quality attributes are very expensive to implement:
We'll revisit the cost issues of quality later in Chapters 13, 15 and 23.
A Final Note on Quality for Now
As noted by Philip Crosby, quality is free and poor quality costs. One of the less documented aspects of a poor quality environment is the dysfunctional effect of poor quality on the morale and sense of professionalism of the people producing the system, service, or product. Not only will a quality agreement reduce costs and increase productivity, but it will improve the morale and satisfaction of all people working in the organization.
The P Files Episode 7: They Deserve It
As one of our workshop participants put it, "Quality is like religion. Everyone believes in it. Only a few practice it." Quality has remained the last escape clause for many project team members. We were showing a project team the quality agreement tool and the team members were very excited about the fact that they could finally agree on what quality really meant for their project. We then pointed out that the stakeholders have the final say on what the quality should be for their project. One of the team members was stunned: "You mean we show this to the users!? They don't know anything! If we let them decide the quality, they'll be happy with crap. We can't let them do this. They deserve great quality and we will build it for them. I hate this tool."
The P Files Team Comment
Open project management means the stakeholders drive the project. If they want poor quality (as long as they are prepared to pay for the clean-up later), then that's what they get. It is always interesting to see traditional technical people struggle with this concept.
Case Study ”Quality Agreement
You discuss the various quality attributes with Edwina and the other stakeholders at the RAP. The quality agreement is completed and Edwina is prepared to pay the additional cost and risk so that both Kim and Joan get the additional attributes that they expect, as shown here.
This gives you the following quality index:
| Conformity and/or maintainability and/or flexibility and/or auditability /security || 1 |
| Conformity and/or maintainability and/or flexibility and/or auditability/security and any one of portability, efficiency, usability, reliability, reusability, and job impact || 2 |
| Conformity and/or maintainability and/or flexibility and/or auditability/security and any two of portability, efficiency, usability, reliability, reusability, and job impact || 3 |
| Conformity and/or maintainability and/or flexibility and/or auditability/security and any three of portability, efficiency, usability, reliability, reusability, and job impact || 4 |
| Conformity and/or maintainability and/or flexibility and/or auditability/security and any four or more of portability, efficiency, usability, reliability, reusability, and job impact || 5 |