The Duality Model
Quality is purposeless without a customer who has specified the need and then works in a transactional role while the need is progressively fulfilled during production of deliverables. The problem is that although customers appreciate the significance of acceptance criteria, I have rarely seen the need for balanced acceptance or approval procedures addressed either in contract or in project documents.
In the Duality Model, the obligations of the supplier are recognized and balanced by the obligations of the acceptor. A good charter (or contract) will explain the protocols for a balanced transaction, especially final product acceptance. The contract will also lay out the terms of the acceptance criteria, if not the specific details. A good development methodology with built-in quality will also apply the Duality Model to interim project deliverables, such as specifications, designs, technical plans, components, subassemblies, and so forth.
The knowledgeable adherence by both parties to their responsibilities requires agreement to a written procedure. The protocols for this should be based on the following template:
Supplier Protocols: Initiates transaction, Schedules time, Communicates, Declares deficiencies, Meets criteria.
Acceptor Protocols: States criteria, Assesses deficiencies, Adheres to time-lines, Provides feedback, Signs off, Completes transaction.
The Duality Model can be usefully applied to many other transactions and project events. Examples include acknowledgement of messages, information or data, validation of requests received, and protocols governing the provision of materials or resources.