Having your engine fail a few minutes after take-off can’t be a pleasant experience, even when getting out of this fix is a bit of a breeze, compared to outrunning a Death Star in the Millennium Falcon.

When you’re involved in implementing change, then having your change crash shortly after go live is maybe not quite so unpleasant an ordeal as poor Mr Ford suffered, but pretty chastening all the same.

 

Quality

 

What you need to avoid this, is a large dose of quality.

Quality in projects is much misunderstood.  People tend to associate quality with the methods, when they really should be focussing on the results.

A quality deliverable is one that is fit for the purpose that the customer specified. A quality toaster for the home is likely to be completely different to one for a hotel, because of the sort of use both receive. Producing a home toaster to hotel toaster standards is likely to result in a very expensive home toaster with few benefits for the home user; do it the other way around and the hotel will end up with cheap toasters that break down too often.

 

Quality Control

 

The two major elements of Quality Control are:

  • Review and sign off
  • Testing

Review and Sign Off

 

A review is the single most effective means of maintaining quality. So review IT code, review documents, review processes – review anything you think you have completed. Reviewing is cost effective too. Devoting a relatively short period of time to a review removes errors early on and reduces the need for rework later.

All of the major deliverables for a project should be reviewed and signed off.

Consider how you carry out reviews. It has become the norm to send documents around by e-mail to be reviewed, but it is more involving and more interactive to get the interested parties together in a meeting to review the document.

Review meetings should have:

  • A chair
  • A scribe, who will document agreed actions
  • The author(s)
  • Reviewers, including the person or people responsible for signing the document off

Attendees should be instructed to have read the document(s) before the review and come armed with their comments.

 

Testing

 

Test your deliverables properly; it’s far more expensive to repair or change something after it has been delivered than it is to get it right first time.

Get testing wrong and you potentially end up wrecking your productivity, your reputation, your legality or possibly all three.

People tend to associate testing with IT, but an untested process can have disastrous results if opened up to the public (always formally walk through changed processes before implementing them). Opening an untested road bridge to the public would be unthinkable.

We don’t know what the cause was of the engine failure that led to Harrison Ford making an unscheduled visit to the 16th green, but if you want your changes to avoid a similar fate, then you need to pay attention to reviews and proper testing as a part of a quality control regime.

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Read more advice on Project Management in Project Management for SMEs – available in print and ebook format.

Gren Gale is a consultant specialising in Project Management and Procurement and is owner of PM Results

Image courtesy of NESTOR DE LEON 06-21-2012 http://www.clker.com/

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