It's that time again: we are off to the races on projects. Many companies are trying to implement things and roll out new products as quickly as they can to expand their businesses and gain new market share. Question is, how do we as project managers work at this enhanced pace without affecting the quality of our project? Our answer is to integrate the following five steps into our planning.
#1 - Find the Quality
Number one, we want to find the quality. What does that really mean? I have a mentor that says version one is better than version none. In some cases, it is better to get things to market before they are perfect, even though that goes against what we as project managers and sometimes technical people define as quality. We just can't wait for perfection in some markets. Sometimes there's a need the product is trying to meet. It's important to define what quality means for the project, which could mean something different on other projects. Define it, agree on it, and incorporate it into the plan.
#2 - Set Targets to Measure Against
Number two, set literal targets to measure against. To come up with those targets, invite stakeholders and team members to a workshop where they can provide input, and to make sure what you are trying to incorporate and measure is actually realistic. Also, know and set legal compliance targets. There are many industries that require projects to manage and meet legal requirements throughout the development process so that once something is rolled out to market it actually meets those compliance requirements.
#3 - Communicate the Targets
Number three, communicate the targets once they have been defined and incorporated into the plan. All parties need to know what the targets are in order to include them into their own plans, measure and track them. Identify who is responsible for communicating and managing sub plans and who is involved in getting them back on track. Who is responsible for testing the targets and the metrics? Who is responsible for approving those? Get all of that defined and incorporated into the plan.
#4 - Measure for Compliance
Number four, measure for compliance. Once everything is defined, agreed upon, incorporated into the plan and communicated to all parties impacted by the plan, now targets need to actually be measured. How do we do it? Who does it? Incorporate those decisions into the plan and make sure that the appropriate person is actually measuring the metrics all along and that those metrics are within the guidelines and meeting legal compliance objectives.
#5 - Take Action
The fifth step is to take action. If targets are not being met and quality objectives are off, it's important to take action quickly. The decisions that have to be made include determining how to get back on track, who escalates the issue so that it becomes important, if you are going to escalate the issue, and whether or not to cancel the project or back things up. Many times it's very important to make those decisions quickly and be able to cancel the project or cancel something to get it back on track.
We think these five steps are important to not only meet quality targets and improve project results, but to also increase stakeholder satisfaction and team support. We hope you find them of value and can incorporate them into your project.