If Quality Slips, Check Your Risks

Abstract
Quality management is not independent of risk management. Yet the two are often decoupled after a project goes operational. When the quality performance of an operation falters, project management principles offer a useful framework for getting things back on track.

This article presents a situation in which quality and risk were decoupled with an approach using project management elements to correct the resulting imbalance.

Introduction
I was once hired to fix a quality problem that had “suddenly” appeared in a survey-and-data operation that had run smoothly for years.

Figure 1: The process.

The Problem
“We’ve done this work for years, and quality has never been an issue. But now I’m getting client complaints about the quality of our work,” my future boss explained during the interview. He was responding to my question about problems I could anticipate. “It doesn’t make sense as our key team hasn’t changed,” he continued. My interviewer was the corporate executive with division oversight, but was removed from daily operations.

I took the job and quickly discovered that something had indeed changed.

The Cause
The client had made a major budget cut to our work and had taken back data entry. Our data entry team had been disbanded as client staff took over the work.

Data entry was the…

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- Rudyard Kipling

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