Many companies continually invest significant amounts of time, resources and capital into projects. However, according to the PMI’s Pulse of the Profession 2012 “Driving Success in Challenging Times” report, 36 percent of projects did not meet their original goals and business intent in 2011. A lot of these projects fail to deliver on their objectives, and often organisations are cognisant of the reasons for their failure and could most likely have taken preventative measures. Nevertheless, projects keep failing.
The process of reviewing project information to ensure that projects are planned and organised for success, and to highlight any areas of concern to the executive team, is known as quality assurance. Quality assurance is process-orientated and about “doing the right things, the right way” and should not be confused with quality control, which is product-orientated and concerns defect identification.
Although quality assurance does not necessarily assure quality, it does assure that a process is being followed. This is important because the success of most projects is closely linked to project requirements and the degree to which projects follow the policies and procedures for project management within an organisation.
Project management has changed substantially over the past few years and processes have to be implemented to accommodate traditional as well as the more complex environments. The responsibility for maintaining methodologies and conducting scheduled quality reviews on projects to ensure adherence is typically the responsibility of the project management office (PMO), but how is this managed if this entity does not exist?
In its simplest form, the job of quality assurance can be achieved through a checklist that verifies that governance and tools are being used by a project. The checklist must include the following points at a minimum (but is not limited to these):
- Has the project manager been allocated at the correct time during the project life cycle?
- Has the project budget been recorded?
- Does the project have a project plan?
- Do all tasks have responsible persons identified?
- Has the necessary documentation been completed?
- Have risks and issues been captured and correctly managed?
The requirements of the quality assurance process can also be achieved by sitting down with the project manager on a regular basis and asking the right questions about the delivery of the project. Another alternative to checklists and one-on-one sessions is reviewing the reports, logs and related documentation to ensure that the project status is being accurately reflected. The nature and size of the project should determine the frequency of the quality review process, but based on past experience, the Project Portfolio Office team recommends that quality reviews are conducted bi-monthly at a minimum if this is not an automated process.
It is likely that in the more complex environments, where ongoing reviews are part of a well-entrenched process, an automated method for a non-bureaucratic and restricting way is required. The approach for monitoring the health of multiple ongoing projects is aimed at a more real time solution where determining adherence and identifying discrepancies are seamless. While most good project portfolio management (PPM) applications support the need to automate the quality assurance process, it’s important to identify and define the rules and conditions for this process.
The implementation of an automated quality review process provides the project management office, and the project managers themselves, with the capability to assess the quality of the data quickly and independently, and then identify areas where improvements need to be made. Here are some of the benefits that can be expected:
- The ability to assess the quality of the data presented quickly;
- Fact-based project reviews to determine if projects are still on the path to success prior to gate review meetings;
- Identification of areas where improvements need to be made and the taking of corrective action;
- Improved decision-making for the executive team; and
- An increase in project process compliance statistics.
Are you looking for a project management tool that will save time and introduce quality checks in your project environment?? If so, try a free 30-day trial of Project Portfolio Office (PPO) today at www.go2ppo.com.
PPO supports project management through online automated quality reviews, which you can explore in our knowledge base article below: How can I measure and report on data quality?
PPO is an award winning online project portfolio management and collaboration application. PPO is simple, immediate, secure and affordable. PPO is flexible and can be configured to support any methodology.