Quality Can be Deadly

approved.epsSomething happened to my family a few days ago that made me think of this topic. It had nothing to do with project management‚Ķbut it had everything to do with something that was far more important to me ‚Äì my son. I was in the emergency room with my two year old son and the physician sent us home with a prescription for a lethal dosage of his medicine. Our pharmacist caught it and I would have caught it because I had been giving him this prescription all along…but what if another family member gave the dosage? What if a nurse in the ER had given the medication to him before we went home that night? I had a very serious phone discussion with the doctor who made the error about an hour after we got home. I think she nearly cried‚Ķwhich means I fell a little short of my goal.

Quality Work is Definitely Always Important

Things don’t often get this serious in the project management world, but quality work is definitely always important. When has quality been a huge issue on one of your projects and what have you done or what did you do to rectify the situation so similar issues can be avoided in the future?

For me, the first one that comes to mind is a project from about five years ago where my business analyst was producing the FDD (functional design document) deliverable on a technical solution and the document contained several punctuation and grammatical errors as well as formatting errors due to the PDF creator program he was using. He was overloaded on multiple projects and quality was not emphasized enough. Unfortunately, it went to the customer three times with errors like this before I implemented the proper corrective action. The result for us – and a common result in situations like this – was a decreased confidence and satisfaction level from the customer because they started to question every deliverable and every piece of work we produced from that point forward.

Keeping Customer Satisfaction High

My corrective measure was to start peer reviewing just about everything we produced on that project and future projects…because oversights like that can happen to anyone. With peer reviews like that, some extra time has to be built into the schedule, but the payback in eliminating rework while keeping customer satisfaction high is huge, if not priceless.

In the project management world quality won’t be a life and death issue very often, though projects involving the building of cars and airplanes and related parts would probably fall into that category. The key is to identify the quality needs and concerns at the beginning of the project and plan for proper quality reviews and oversight in the project schedule. Involving a QA specialist in the project at key check points may be necessary. That individual – or the QA department in your organization may even need to perform quality audits – if necessary – to ensure that the solution is complying with requirements and to instill confidence in the customer that the delivery team is providing them with a quality product. This is very common on larger projects and programs – especially on government projects.

How About You?

Do you have instances that you can share where you learned quality lessons and incorporated corrective measures or checks and balances so quality stays at the forefront?

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Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM author with over 25 years experience as a developer, manager, project manager and consultant. Brad is married, a father of 9, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV.