In the last few weeks I’ve written a few blogs on other aspects of project management I think are important. It’s not just about checking off your action items as fast as possible. It’s about setting up your project so you have the greatest chance of success. You need to think ahead about what each activity involves. You can measure project quality by looking at each of those activities, as they are completed. But first, you have to define your quality objectives. Don’t wait until the end and find out you are way off base. Follow these steps.
I’ve written before about how to breaking a project down. Breaking the project down properly can be one of the most consequential activities you do. Failure to think through the needed activities can result in failure. Spending too much time to break it down into detailed steps is a waste of valuable resources. At this point, you’re still thinking about what, more than how.
Suppose your work package (or activity) is to create a training manual for a piece of medical equipment you are developing. Is the training manual supposed to be written in multiple languages? Do you want an online manual, or will it need to be a printable file? Is it a draft, or the approved final version? Who will need to approve the manual? The more people who have to sign off on the training manual, the longer it will take. Asking that question early will impact your complexity and cost estimates.
For another example, let’s consider a non-profit fund raiser. You are throwing a major party that includes a silent raffle, a voice raffle, and a band. What are the expectations for each of the major work packages? Are you trying to procure a top-tier nationally recognized band, or a local band that is known by some of the potential attendees? What kind of dance music should the band play? Is the band supposed to dress in formal attire, or jeans? You can run through the same types of questions for both raffles, the emcee, the food and drink selections, and the decorations.
Sometimes this is obvious, and sometimes it’s not. For example, if the activity is the training manual, someone can look at the manual to see that it is available in whatever languages were selected. But, do you want a native speaker to review each translation? Or, are you going to be happy with the Google translate version?
For the fundraiser, will you want someone to go hear the band play somewhere, or will listening to a few tracks on their agent’s website do? Are you planning to have your non-profit’s legal firm review the raffle contracts? Or, will you trust that the form used five years ago will still work?
This whole quality testing idea is such a foreign concept to so many business people. If the project is to develop and build a new stroller, it makes sense that you will want to decide on the quality needed for the wheels, for example. And once you decide on the quality you want, you need to plan for how you will build in that quality. Manufacturing experts will tell you that it’s cheaper to build in quality than to repair quality later. Rework is expensive. Factory recalls are time consuming and distracting and the injuries and deaths from poor quality products are tragic.
Somehow, when the project becomes something that is less physical, and poor quality won’t result in death or injury, people can ignore the need to focus on quality. This is a mistake. Rework, when an activity is misunderstood, is still costly.
So, now that you’ve figured out how you will build in the quality, and how you will test the quality, you need to specify, in writing, who will test the quality and who will approve the quality tests results. This should be two different people.
Build quality into your projects. Figure out the quality plan for each activity, and how you will measure project quality to ensure success. And if you want more tips, sign up for my newsletter.