Project Management

The Biggest Misconception About Quality

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Think of this as a bit of a quality management 101 piece, but with a focus on practicalities. Let’s start with one of the biggest misconceptions about quality that many new PMs have: Testing is not the same as quality. Testing is an approach to measuring quality, but it should be the (literally) last thing that a project focuses on when it comes to quality.

The problem is that testing can only measure what’s already been done, so if you find any problems, the only solution is either rework or acceptance. That’s going to cause delays, and it’s expensive—so effective quality management needs to be placed earlier in the process.

That’s where the idea of prevention rather than cure comes in. Instead of finding problems and then fixing them, you avoid creating problems in the first place. The general rule is that the earlier in the project you can apply quality, the cheaper it is. So, if you plan the work to avoid high-risk or uncertain work methods—or if you can resource the team with experts who have lots of experience on the type of project you need to deliver—then you can minimize the potential for quality problems.

The next best thing is to engineer or design a solution that eliminates possible problem areas. After that, it’s to build the solution with all kinds of safeguards and checks in place to prevent issues …

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