LinkedIn Discussion Group Views
Notwithstanding the foregoing, what did the folks on the LinkedIn discussion have to say? Niranjana K R, an experienced QA professional, started the discussion with "Do you think 'Quality' first or 'Project Management' first?" Here are some of the more enlightened responses.
Shim Marom says: Niranjana, interesting question. You could, if you wanted, make this a generic question and apply it to any professional discipline. I guess this question has two dimensions. On one hand it is about the process of producing the project's products and on the other hand it is about the project's products themselves. From my perspective, the role of the PM is to focus on the quality of the process, i.e. ensure that the process of producing the outputs is a "quality" process. As far as the quality of the outputs, that's a matter of complying with the specifications. It is not the role of the PM to determine quality considerations for the output but rather meet the expectations, requirements and specifications and deliver based on them.
Steve Kennedy says: Working in an organization that is ISO9001 certified, means the question is somewhat irrelevant.
Shim Marom replied: The interesting thing about ISO9001 is that it is all about 'plan what you will do and do what you have planned'. If your plan is wrong you will get the wrong outcomes [including] a wrong quality outcome.
Steven Hutchinson says: I see Project Management as a specialized extension of the business management effort. Management establishes the project to produce a result that provides a benefit in proportion to the cost. If this equation does not provide the right answer then you do not have a [viable] project. A project must provide a result that meets the requirements (Quality), in the time allotted (Schedule), for the money that is available (Budget). If any of the three requirements are too far out of synchronization then the results most likely will not provide the results that are expected. The Project Management activity must provide the planning, negotiation, staffing, sales, purchasing, communications, and monitoring for the project just as the business management team provides these activities for the business. Quality has no purpose if there is no business producing a product. Businesses cannot sell their product for long without quality being built into the end result.
Gary Fortune says: The fact that quality is critically important is not in question. Still, reality does alter cases. Sometimes, "good enough" today is far superior to perfect tomorrow, even if we can only get half of what we truly seek. Typically, Emergency projects, Military projects, and even recovery projects fit this need. I like to assess each project based upon all elements of need, including client industry, organization environment, cost, budget, quality, deliverables, risks, regulatory elements, etc. Then I develop a "Project Plan Concept" that integrates my best effort at an optimal balance to get as close as possible to the project owner's current and future preferences. This is based upon their understanding of both quantity and quality of project features and benefits they are funding. The world is not perfect. We cannot take our time; we do not have unlimited resources; we can not see the future, etc., so we just do the best balance we can, and always based upon the unique peculiarities of each individual project.
Niranjana K R says: I am of the firm belief that we should add value to customer requirements and delight him/her. If the customer is not aware of what he is entitled to get because of his set of requirements, then PM should educate him/her.
Shim Marom replied: Not really. Are you suggesting that the client is wrong to request something that in your mind is low quality but, perhaps, in the client's mind is exactly what they are willing to pay for? Quality is not an absolute term that can be quantified in absolute units of measure. Provided that you are not providing a product that breaks legal or other regulatory thresholds you cannot justify delivering anything other than what the customer is contracting you to deliver. I also can't see how it is the role of the PM to educate the client. The PM can advise and provide suggestions but at the end of the day the PM's responsibility is about delivering to requirements without applying any judgment on their validity or correctness.
Khader Abu Al-Eis says: If the employer (owner) treats their employees well, then the employees become loyal, more productive, and produce better quality product. However, the problem comes when the client is not your employer. The quality here is what the client asks for. Or from what I have seen from my experience in the highway industry, the contractor will give the minimum effort required to meet the specified quality. The contractor could produce better quality, but that would cut into the company's profit.
Jeff Porterfield says: Quality does not come from a process; it comes from an attitude, a culture that permeates the very fiber of a corporate structure. Quality awareness cannot be driven top-down into an organization. It needs to be grown from the bottom up.
David Hatch says: As someone who was trained in the Crosby Quality concept I have a slightly different view of quality than most on this thread. Quality is nothing more than what is needed by the customer. If the project delivers what the customer needs then nothing else really matters. The trouble with most projects, especially ICT driven projects, is that they constantly seek to deliver their own vision of what the customer needs rather than what is actually needed. Then they blame the customer when what they deliver isn't used in the way they think it should be used, even though the customer didn't need it in the first place. The end result might appear clever, but if it's not what the customer needed then it's not a quality solution.
24. As of 7/21/13 there were over 260 comments. Those that have been selected have been edited for brevity.
25. Integrated Circuit Technology