Lead PRINCE2® trainer Richard Lampitt continues with part 2 of his blog series this week with the importance of 'Quality.' Following on from last week he defines a 10 point check list which is essential in helping projects deliver quality solutions.

Last week Richard discussed the importance of not shying away from this important aspect of project management and gave us a very amusing and useful analogy on the importance of communicating this in the right way with his 'Pork Chop pursuit' story. You can catch the first in his blog series in part1: Quality Street not Quality Cul De Sac

Next Richard follows on with this by giving us an important checklist to ensure that we follow through on quality in the right way.

To help your projects deliver a quality solution/product, as a checklist/guide, here’s a typical 10-step quality path to follow:

1. Start by clarifying what outcomes (business changes) the customer is looking to achieve and what benefits (measurable improvements) they are expecting to realise from the project.

2. Decide what would be the best solution/products to help achieve those outcomes and benefits.

3. Agree the scope of the products to be delivered by the project (what products we will and also will NOT be creating). Look for a way of ‘mapping’ the products to the desired outcomes and benefits. If there’s no outcome/benefit ‘map’ to a product, then you ought to ask yourself why the product should be created at all.

4. Agree and document what the customer’s overall quality expectations and acceptance criteria are for the end product/solution (involve the people who will be using the products).

5. Plan and document what you need to do to ensure the customer’s expectations and overall acceptance criteria are going to be met (including people’s responsibilities and any applicable standards to be met).

6. Agree and document the specific ‘quality criteria’ for each of the individual products to be created (again involve the people who will be using the products). Clearly define each of those agreed products by documenting information such as:

 

  • The product’s purpose (what purpose the product will fulfil and who will be using it. This will help with defining the product’s required levels of quality)
  • What the product will be composed of (its compositional parts/sections)
  • How it is to be formatted/presented (stating any particular characteristics it should take)
  • The product’s quality criteria* and any tolerances (the criteria that will make the product fit for purpose and any permissible deviation from that criteria)
  • The type of quality method (e.g. the test/check/inspection/review to be used to check the product meets its quality criteria)
  • The skills required to carry out the quality method (e.g. the knowledge required to carry out the test/check/inspection/review on the product)

 

*Note that with the ‘quality criteria’ mentioned above, you must make sure it’s concise and clearly described in a quantified and measurable way wherever possible. Not doing this is a common cause of project issues and perhaps leading you down that ‘cul-de-sac’ route to project failure. This is most likely to be because the product is unlikely to be fit for purpose, meaning the outcomes and benefits won’t be achieved from the use of the product, leaving you with acceptance disputes with the customer, unnecessary re-work and potentially no turning back.

 

Another thing to consider with quality criteria is whether you can realistically deliver ALL of the quality criteria for the customer, given the project’s time and cost constraints. This is where it can be useful to prioritise the criteria using techniques such as MoSCoW. The M, S, C and W are from the words ‘Must have’, Should have, Could have and Won’t have. For example, you could prioritise quality criteria using the following as a guide. You should look to deliver all the Must’s and ideally as many of the Should’s as possible, but agreeing that if time and/or cost is a problem, you can leave out the Could’s and certainly the Won’ts:

 

  • Must have (the quality criteria are essential and critical to outcome/benefit realization)
  • Should have (the quality criteria are important, but NOT critical to outcome/benefit realization, yet its absence will weaken the outcome/benefit realization)
  • Could have (the quality criteria are useful to outcome/benefit realization, but its absence will NOT weaken the outcome/benefit realization)
  • Won’t have (the quality criteria which can be dropped, with no impact to outcome/benefit realization) i.e. the ‘nice to haves’.

 

7. Plan adequate quality checks/tests/inspections/reviews etc into your plan’s schedule so the products will be sufficiently assessed against their quality criteria.

8. Carry out the quality checks/tests/inspections/reviews, as planned (involve the people who will be using the products as the testers/reviewers). Carry out checks/tests etc during product creation and once it’s finished. In many cases, waiting until the product is finished before you do any type of check/test etc to verify that the product’s level of quality is satisfactory can be expensively too late!

9. Document the results of each check/test/inspection/review etc undertaken on the products (so there’s evidence that the checks/tests etc have been carried out), rectify any errors found and get those checked/tested too and look to get acceptance/sign-off from the customer/users for the completed products.

10. Look for opportunities for continuous improvement of quality (from lessons good and bad) and ‘apply’ those lessons throughout. (Make those lessons available for future projects too).

So you see, there are steps you can take to ensure your project goes on the correct path to quality. Don’t go down the calamity ‘cul-de-sac’ route and find yourself at a dead end, with great difficulty turning back. Instead, go down the quality ‘street’ which has another road at the end…the road to customer acceptance and project success. Following such a path should also make your project’s become less like that box of chocolates! 

Richard is the lead PRINCE2 trainer at SPOCE Project Management and runs many of our classroom and virtual classroom courses. If you are interested in finding out more about project sucess and the fundamentals of planning then why not contact us on...

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