Quality is a tough subject, with a complex history and many dimensions. Today, on most projects, it is viewed as a process issue centered on QC/QA procedures or costly corporate implementations of ISO or Six Sigma. Unfortunately, belief in add-on procedures has redirected PM attention from the essentials of inherent quality work, and corporate initiatives have tended to dilute the PM's responsibility for quality.
Only rarely do quality initiatives emerge from the bottom up, and corporate leadership has lost its way. So, as project managers, we must reclaim our quality leadership role and change the emphasis on quality. This can be achieved by addressing quality as a matter for project policy, and using quality models for the four project fundamentals:
- OBJECTIVES Understand the specific quality requirements for the product. The Point Model gives the means by which the sponsor, or his quality requirements experts, can properly articulate quality objectives to the PM and to her technical experts for specification. I have signified these as quality factors, and they are critical.
- DELIVERABLES Adopt and perform joint responsibilities for acceptance of deliverables. The Duality Model reminds the stakeholders that delivery of quality is a two-way street, and both supplier and acceptor have responsibilities that must be jointly fulfilled.
- ACTIVITIES Pay attention to the design of efficient activities to be done well. The Triangle Model is a summation of the theoretical foundation for quality of work People, Process, and Technology. Before activity assignment the PM assesses the attributes of the resource, the applicability of the processes, and the cost/benefit of supportive technology.
- TRADE-OFFS Schedule these discussions as a formal project activity with defined information inputs, protocols to guide negotiation, and agreed outcomes. The Quadrant Model represents the project as a balance of resources against the work needed to build functionality and quality. Use this as a reference to ensure agreements are explicit and logical.
Implementing these models requires customer engagement and the support of the performing organization. A benefit of this approach to quality is zero acquisition expense, and little extra cost. I would argue that it is what the project should be doing regardless. But what do we do if the client shows no interest or understanding? In such a case, nothing will be gained by argument and the best approach is to proceed with the assumption of "standard" grade under the umbrella of a basic Quality Management System (QMS).
My suggestion is that a Quality Reference Guide expanding the four models could be a valuable project planning resource. Please contact me directly for your thoughts on this issue.