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Project Quality Management

AMM Blog / 19. January 2012

Implementing quality measures on projects is often challenging. This is due to their volatile nature, evolving standards and project scenarios, which make it more challenging to standardize rules, having survived many nonstandard complex projects and their quality audits. This is why I wanted to share my lessons learned which rhyme with everything PMI advocates and specific to AMS Projects.

Quality measures by standard are defined by Schedule, Scope and Budget. In-addition, on AMS engagements, Quality measures can also be defined on standard project deliverables, readiness to progress past defined milestones, knowledge exchanged and on service delivery capability on day one Go-Live.

Following section, further elaborates the above identified measures.

1. Schedule Adherence Measures

A general schedule baseline is agreed in the early pre-project phases, which is further refined in the pre-planning phase of the project by taking into account factors such as, criticality, complexity, stability and availability of documentation on the applications. A typical transition index is derived using the weighted average of the mentioned parameters to categorize applications into light, standard and extended transition models, each only differing in time invested in transitioning the application.

In the planning phase, the individual who takes lead in transitioning a given application further qualifies the scheduled baseline by explicitly defining the scope for the transition exercise along with the application owner from the client end.

This is achieved by using KT checklist, which is a prioritized list of topics against defined knowledge areas that help differentiate topics of critical importance and required for enabling day-one service from those that can be achieved post go-live in service. These topics are further broken down depending on time required to cover each topic onto a KT calendar which identified the date, time, location, participants and the agenda topics covered.

The granular analysis done in conjunction with the client, helps validate the initial assumptions made to set the schedule and establishes trust and commitment from client in progressing to the subsequent phases.

Adherence to this baseline now serves as a defining measure to grade a project.

2. Scope Adherence Measures

Contracts and Statement of Work often leave out the application specific scope definitions and only define the generic scope applicable to all in-scope applications. This leads to obvious deviations when we encounter complex or unstable heavy weight applications which are few in number, but, demand more work than the average of remaining applications.

Calling these deviations out explicitly and raising it to project board for clarification is of critical importance in the planning phase, outcome could either be a change request to extend the schedule, effort and cost or to exclude the additional tasks from the scope.

The KT Checklist prepared in the planning phase, will serve as a baseline for the project scope management, any deviation to it should always be raised to the project board as a change request. Adherence to this process serves as a quality measure for the project.

3. Budget Adherence Measures

A good project manager always keeps his baseline firm and mitigates the deviations as they occur during the course of the project.

Risk based assumptions are often ignored and the final approved budget is skinned to the bone. To keep it close to reality, it is always recommended to do a ground up calculation identifying the key levers that influence the final budget and identifying the risks associated against these leavers, so when budget downsizing is done the risks inherited are known with explicit dollar value.

A periodic review of effort spent against progress achieved is measured to identify deviations and forecast the effort required and the budget status on completion. Instituting and following this process serves as a good measure to grade the project quality for budget adherence.

The next set of measures discussed will require client engagement and the level of detail expected doubles the effort spent in measuring and grading their quality, it is recommended the emphasis on deliverables be evaluated against the business criticality individually and no generic rule be agreed to the level of detail analyzed.

4. Quality of Project Deliverables

Project deliverables quality cannot be expressed in black and white, and it often involves all the shades in-between, the benchmarks are defined in the planning phase based on the business needs influenced mostly by client user community.

Standard deliverables such as infrastructure, processes, governance and reporting though important are often over shadowed by emphasis laid on readiness milestones, knowledge reviews and delivery capability on day-one, these topics are further discussed in the following section.

4.1 Readiness Milestones

A readiness review milestones typically marks the end of a defined phase and beginning of another, the reviews would not only be limited to the agreed quality of the deliverable against the benchmarks, but also on the readiness of the team to progress to the next phase.

A poker face does not help as much as a good set of cards in this gambit, the reference being made is to being prepared and it only comes with good investment in preparation.

The most critical task in planning is to align the expectations with the client on what they can expect at the readiness reviews, to showcase the templates in advance and progressively update these templates at regular intervals in absolute transparency to avoid surprise at the readiness reviews. This approach allows you to read his satisfaction and take corrective actions if need be ahead of the review to ensure success.

In the planning phase, setting meetings with the application owners to explain the methodology, the phase deliverables and their related quality definitions is of critical importance. The most important review happens at the end of the KT phase and the completeness of the KT checklist plays a pivotal role.

The most defining moment is when the client and the supplier agree on how a checklist item is marked as complete, this is often achieved by first gathering clients expectations, managing it to ensure its reasonable and producing detailed documentation post workshops to meet that expectation.

4.2 Knowledge Reviews

To quantify knowledge is often tricky, sharing the suppliers method of approach and artifacts that will be produced and their purpose go a long way in securing the verdict on knowledge gained completeness.

The Ambition® methodology advocates a systematic approach by first developing a prioritized KT checklist, deriving the workshop agendas from it and documenting the workshop in granular detail with screenshots, code snippets, flow charts and diagrams with detailed description of all knowledge exchanged to client satisfaction enables means to quantify the knowledge gained at readiness reviews.

These detailed protocols which will have articles flagged for use in service, which are further developed into knowledge articles and detailed work instructions, ensure client confidence in supplier service capability on day-one.

4.3 Delivery Capability on Day-One

It is often observed those who participate in KT sessions are not the same people who attend to issues in service, often they are not even on the same continents.

Going for the split development of protocol development onsite by those conducting the workshops and the flagged knowledge articles and work instructions development by offshore teams derived from these protocol documents, and are used in day-one service often helps build the client confidence in offshore capability of running service on day-one.

 

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