Home > Programme Initiation, Quality > Quality Planning – Part 1 – Making Quality Visible

Quality Planning – Part 1 – Making Quality Visible

In her excellent blog ‘A Girl’s Guide to Project Management’, Elizabeth Harrin recently commented that she has successfully delivered all her projects over the last year without a single quality plan. Looking at the comments that this post provoked (mine included), I suspect Elizabeth has been in the happy, happy situation of having well-balanced, motivated teams working within reasonable, well-adjusted organisations. I agree with her that quality plans should be unnecessary, but the truth is – especially in environments such as the one The Programme PMO is operating within – we cannot assume everyone is pulling in the same direction to deliver the same outcomes, so some formal statement of our approach to quality is required.

I’m not going to go into the minutiae of quality management here – what I need is a practical and achievable set of actions that will help me both establish the type of quality outcome expected and the actions needed to get us there. (Note: our programme is operating in the absence of any corporate quality mandate or initiatives, so we’re starting from scratch.)

What we don’t need:

  • A 142 page Quality Plan document that delves into the whys and wherefores of quality management, mandates a complicated and resource-intensive quality assurance plan and ultimately achieves nothing other than wasting the two months the author spent writing it (this, I suspect, is the type of quality plan Elizabeth is referring to in her post)

What we do need:

  • Something that clearly defines what quality means to the programme
  • Something that everyone on the programme can easily access and understand
  • Something that provides clear actions and responsibilities to ensure we build the right type and level of quality into everything we do

As ever, my first step is to see what OGC’s P3O manual says about quality management. Hmmm… Astonishingly (and IMHO unforgivably) P3O says almost nothing on quality, apart from referring out to OGC’s Gateway Review Process, which from previous experience is somewhere I have no intention of visiting.

Let’s get back to basics then, and define what we mean by ‘quality’.

Quality Management Principles

The ISO defines eight principles of quality management. Although these principles are defined in terms of the ‘organization’, my experience is that they apply equally well if we consider the programme to be the organization in question. The principles are:

  1. Customer focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Involvement of people
  4. Process approach
  5. System approach to management
  6. Continual improvement
  7. Factual approach to decision making
  8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

Regardless of your place in the quality debate, there aren’t many people who would (or would be able to) argue that adopting these principles is anything other than A Good Thing.

First thing to do then is to ‘borrow’ the ISO definitions of these principles and adapt them for our programme. This took me about half an hour and has resulted in an entirely unoriginal but, I think, accessible and useful, document that I’ve rather grandly called the ‘Programme Quality Charter’.

Now, this may seem a bit Mickey Mouse for anyone embroiled in the dingy depths or floating in the blue skies of quality management, but for a programme starting with little idea of quality, and at hardly any cost or effort at all, it’s a giant leap forward.

Next steps:

  1. Issue a copy of the Quality Charter to everyone involved in the programme
  2. Begin to identify the actions required to bring this to life
  3. Plan those actions alongside (and fully integrated with) all the other programme activities
  1. April 16, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    These 8 principles are a great summary of what quality should be; I particularly like point 7, fact-based decision making. Thanks for sharing your Charter as well. I think this will be a useful document for my future projects. And you are right about your assessment of my team. I’ve been lucky, but we’ve all worked hard to get us to this point.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: