10 ways to maintain consistent project quality
Quality matters! Quality separates the professional from the amateur and it takes commitment, focus and sometimes courage, to maintain consistent project quality and deliver it within budget.When you're delivering a multi-million-pound IT project, poor project quality can have profound effects, resulting in re-work, schedule delays, higher cost, frustration, morale problems, and lack of customer satisfaction. So how can you ensure that you maintain consistent project quality from start to finish?
1. Define quality
Quality is ambiguous, it can mean many things. For example, The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines quality as, “conformance to requirements and fitness of use”, ISO 9000 defines quality as, “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfil requirement".
Whatever type or size of project you are managing, take the time to define the quality criteria for your current work so that your team members understand what it is, and how to reach and improve upon it.
2. Commit to qualityA company's commitment to quality must come from the top and be reinforced repeatedly. Unless a Business views quality as its single, non-negotiable goal, workers will inevitably feel the need to make trade-offs and quality will slip.
As a project manager or leader, commit to quality, share the commitment with your staff and think about how you will handle the any conflict between your stated objective and an attractive cost-saving, short cut that compromises quality.
3. Stick to the project requirements!
Once you’ve defined the quality criteria and project requirements, stick to them! Balance continual project improvements with gold-plate requirements. Adding features the customer did not request increases the potential for delays, and higher cost. Project Managers drive improvements and project quality but beware of out-of-scope extras creeping in.
4. Manage quality
Work with your project team to define a practical approach to managing quality, including applicable standards and quality processes. These are driven by your standards and quality processes contained in the project blueprint.
5. Perform quality assurance
Execute your quality management plan using the standards and processes defined in the project blueprint. Perform a quality audit to evaluate how well the team is following the plan and meeting your customer’s expectations.
6. Control the quality
Ensure the deliverables are correct and free of defects and focus on quality from the beginning to the end of the project. Perform inspections to identify defects. Start as early as possible; identifying and correcting defects close to the point of origin saves time and money.
7. Focus on requirements
Requirements management and quality management go hand in hand. Clear, well-defined requirements lead to less rework and schedule delays. Focus on improving the requirements process—eliciting, analysing, documenting and validating them.
8. Follow the project processes
Follow the processes and tasks contained in your project blueprint. If you identify a more efficient way to do something, add this into the blueprint to continually improve the processes.
9. Lessons learned
Document lessons learned after project phases and at the completion of the project to evaluate your processes and ‘bake’ all the improvements into the project blueprint and translate them to future projects. This forms part of your knowledge management strategy; you build up a knowledge bank and use lessons learned in the last project for both existing and new projects.
10. Project De-Brief
The project de-brief is more than a casual conversation about what did and didn’t work, it digs into why things happened (or didn't happen). A de-brief can sometimes be as painful as the project itself, especially when your project has failed, and you need to investigate where things went wrong. Rather than rushing headlong into your next project take time for a thorough de-brief with both your team and your client so that over time you continuously improve the consistency of quality in your projects and deliver more of them successfully.
10 ways to maintain consistent project quality
- Define quality
- Commit to quality
- Stick to project requirements
- Manage quality
- Perform quality assurance
- Control the quality
- Focus on requirements
- Follow project processes
- Document lessons learned
- Take time for a through project de-brief
Maintaining consistent project quality takes commitment, focus and courage, and following these steps will not only help you maintain high levels of quality in projects but also continuously improve the consistency of quality in your projects.