Tag: quality

Agile Techniques That Mesh With Traditional Project Management

Agile project management is an iterative approach that focuses on achieving project objectives in distinct stages. It is typically used in the software development industry but has some applications in other fields as well. When the overall scope and specific deliverables are likely to change throughout the lifecycle of a project, an agile approach can make it easier to keep moving forward. This methodology is often best suited for use with small to mid-sized projects. For large scale projects with well-defined deliverables and a high degree of complexity, the agile approach tends to be less useful. However, this doesn’t mean certain features from the agile “toolbox” can’t still be used.

Learn as You Go

You might consider a blended approach that involves traditional waterfall and agile methods. For example, regular meetings that include a review of all lessons learned in the previous week are a core feature of agile project management that can be incorporated into many projects. Since stakeholder feedback is a key factor in compiling lessons learned, the project’s communication management plan must include a way to collect this feedback on an ongoing basis. So, this is an ideal option for projects that involve a client who likes a very “hands on” role.

Quality Takes Center Stage

The agile method also relies heavily on quality control at each stage (since software must be tested and debugged). This is another area where PMs in traditional industries would do well to pay attention. Project quality management should be designed to monitor project deliverables at crucial junctures. Let’s say component B’s performance is predicated on the quality of component A. To avoid delays and increased costs, a quality check should be performed during or immediately after the schedule activity that results in the completion of component A. This type of quality assurance plan can be developed based on an activity sequencing diagram.

Adaptation Requires Flexibility

No matter how thoroughly you plan, there will always be issues that require change requests. With an agile attitude, your team doesn’t have to view these as setbacks. Instead, each modification to the project plan can be seen as an opportunity for brainstorming and problem solving. A project management team that learns to collaborate is more likely to increase the value of a project through creative solutions rather than simply suggesting stop-gap measure to keep the whole thing from falling apart. To make this work, a leadership style that focuses on developing team members rather than simply issuing instructions is essential. In the long run, companies that feature a collaborative environment are almost certain to outperform their competition. So, this is one aspect of the agile method that should be adopted by all businesses that want to remain viable in today’s marketplace.

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Project Management Tips For Joint Ventures

Project management is chaotic enough when you are the sole manager in charge. If you are participating in a joint venture with one or more partner organizations, things can get really complex. There’s more to creating a successful outcome than simply defining who does what within the scope of the project (although that’s an important first step). You also have to determine how the work will get done and how problems will be addressed.

Communication and Documentation

For many projects, it’s helpful for all participants to use the same platform. Project management software that permits remote access to authorized users from multiple organizations may be a helpful tool for ensuring all parties have access to the same information. An ideal solution is one that permits collaboration while restricting data access to those who “need to know” within the hierarchy of each organization.

One area where having everyone use the same software can be particularly beneficial is in reporting. If you have two or three project managers who each have a different idea of what’s going on with the schedule and cost, this makes effective communication about necessary course corrections difficult. When there is greater transparency, accuracy, and conformity in the reporting process among partner organizations, this promotes accountability.

Quality Control

Maintaining a high level of quality in a joint venture is particularly challenging if the project is designed in such a way that each party can pass the buck for getting things fixed. Organizations can hold very different ideas about of what constitutes an acceptable level of quality assurance. Company ‘A’ might think spot checking components on a finished product is all that’s required. Such an organization may have no real strategy in place for what to do if they find a problem other than going back to the drawing board. Company ‘B’ could have a full QA department that incorporates quality planning into the project from the outset including detailed analyses and an action plan for making required adjustments along the way to ensure quality targets are met.

Such a disparity in methodology can lead to conflict. If company B is “downstream” from company A, company B may be stuck trying to fix a problem company A didn’t catch (or risk having scheduled work significantly delayed). If company B does its portion of the work first and company A subsequently fails to deliver on their end, the client organization may blame both parties equally. To avoid these pitfalls, the party with the best track record for quality management practices should have some input regarding what will be considered acceptable QC for all parties.

Wrap Up Session

The project management teams from all organizations involved should (if possible) be part of the post-project session to capture lessons learned. The knowledge that can be gleaned from the successes and failures of a joint venture is particularly valuable since it involves so many variables that simply aren’t a factor in simpler projects.

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Quality Planning Concepts & Terminology

In project management, meeting every deadline and staying within budget is of no use at all if the output is of poor quality. That’s why putting together a quality management plan at the outset of a project is critical. Waiting until the end of the project to review quality means it is already too late to take the most effective steps to create output that meets or exceeds expectations. Instead, criteria should be defined in advance that will be used to:

  1. Determine what traits of the final product are really important from a quality standpoint
  2. Ensure that processes from the beginning through the end of the project promote excellence in these traits
  3. Outline and implement a monitoring program to ensure quality at each stage
  4. Develop protocols to correct any shortfalls in quality that are discovered

When a sound quality management plan is in place, everyone involved in the project benefits. The earlier a problem is identified and corrected, the more resources are conserved. This includes tangibles such as materials and payroll costs and intangibles such as team morale and stakeholder confidence.

Quality Can Never Be Assumed

Anticipating that everything will go as planned and that everyone understands the importance of double-checking their work isn’t a wise decision. Quality tends to take a hit when there is no accountability to an outside source. This is one reason to have a team or department whose only responsibility is to ensure that quality is maintained. The role of this sector of the project team should be clearly outlined and explained so employees do not feel they are being “spied on”.

While no one likes to have their mistakes pointed out, it’s much better to experience a temporary hiccup in the process than to have an entire project fail because of a preventable error. This fact should be communicated to team members to ensure they are all invested in maintaining quality. Individuals at each level should also be encouraged to report potential problems that may have been overlooked in the quality planning stage.

What’s the difference between QA and QC in Project Management?

Quality control and quality assurance are terms that are often used interchangeably in some industries. However, each term has a distinct meaning in the PMBOK guide.  Quality Assurance (QA) refers to the implementation of activities that are designed to ensure appropriate process protocols are followed to maintain quality. It involves tools such as audits and process analysis that are used to create a process improvement plan.

Quality Control (QC) is a QA input that focuses on monitoring and measuring project results. Knowledge of valid sampling techniques, statistical analysis, and flowchart creation is helpful in this discipline. QC should typically be performed throughout a project and the data fed back into the QA program. QC data is used to develop recommendations for improving the quality management plan. Information gathered during QC activities is often added to the lessons learned knowledge base for future reference.

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