Project QualitySo you’re buckled in your airline seat, having tuned out the safety demonstration, when you hear the pilot announce “Flight attendants take your seats, our departure time has been moved up. The weather is closing in and we need to leave or we’ll be delayed and that will cost us all time and money. So we’ll just skip the pre-flight checks. We’re pretty sure we have enough fuel.”  Question:  What’s your level of panic on a scale of 1 to 10 right now?

Ok, so this isn’t going to happen, but in effect this is how some organizations tend to treat the quality control (QC) of their projects. They know it should be done, yet they do it intermittently, or late or not at all. The excuses we most often hear are: There is no budget for QC, the QC budget has been spent getting the project work done, we’ll miss the deadline if we take the time to do QC, no one is available to do QC. Following six simple steps will assure that project QC is consistently and effectively achieved. However, there is a prerequisite for any project QC program within an organization. There must be a person in a position of authority who passionately believes in the value of effective QC and will champion its implementation. In an ideal world every project manager would have this passion for QC, but it is our experience that QC won’t be consistently done without follow through by a QC champion throughout the following Six Steps:

1. Require a Work Plan for every project that includes QC as part of the plan. The project work plan must include who will do the QC work, define the milestones when QC will be done and the dates when these milestones will be reached, and the hours and dollars budgeted for QC. Champions sign-off on work plan.

2. Secure QC Resources. Be sure the QC reviewer blocks out the scheduled QC dates on their calendar. Champion assists PM with resources.

3. Track Reviews. The QC champion tracks all the scheduled QC reviews on a master schedule for the next three months and updates the schedule monthly. The QC reviewer is promptly advised of any schedule changes.

4. Resolve Quality Issues. When a QC reviewer completes a review, the QC reviewer presents the QC comments in writing. The project manager responds to each comment in writing. The Champion steps in to resolve any differences between the QC reviewer and the PM. The completion of the QC review is noted on the master schedule.

5. Ensure Course Correction. Get to the bottom of any failure to complete a review. If the cause is related to a QC reviewer’s schedule, the QC champion resolves the schedule conflict or finds another qualified reviewer. Lack of remaining budget for QC is not an acceptable reason. If a project manager consistently spends the QC budget for other purposes, there are likely other project management deficiencies at some level that need to be addressed.

6. Final Sign-Off. Champion should not allow any project work products to go to the client until QC is completed. Failure to have time to do QC and still meet the project deadline is a sign that the project manager is not managing projects to a schedule and/or that there are resource issues within the organization that need to addressed. If you find yourself in a project situation where the deadline is looming and QC is not done, carefully consider the relative impacts of sending the client a potentially flawed work product versus asking for the time extension needed to assure a high quality work product.

QC is a lot like regular exercise. Once you establish a structure to do it and work through any initial pain, you see the benefits. You begin to look forward to it as a benefit and a habit rather than an extra effort. Please join the conversation and share your challenges and successes with project QC below