Martes, Setyembre 7, 2010

The Quality Manager's Role in Projects... A Help and a Hindrance? by Jolito Ortizo Padilla

Projects are temporary organizations somewhat detached from business as usual. Experienced managers who move into project management often express surprise that managing projects requires a different focus to thier usual thinking. The project's focus on specific objectives and products with a restricted timescale and budget means that different ways of working focus on delivery over process. A quality manager with the knowledge of the way the business usually works may be tempted to enforce all the normal procedures and processes. This approach must becarefully considered and adapted.

In projects, some work will not survive the end of the project and will not need the same rigour as the work needed for the final product. It may be acceptable for a prototype to be more roughly made-the extra engineering would cost time and money that could be devoted to the final product. This lack of finishing can grate with some quality professionals.

The quality system used in projects must be tailored to accomodate differing products. Quality management actions must be included in the project plan so that the project team, quality professionals and management understand where strictly applied procedures are needed and where a lighter touch will work best. An inexperienced quality manager asked to review the plan will not recognize this and will insist on uniformity of process, adding cost to the project for no gain in output quality. However, some project managers will forget that the project will contribute to the long term knowledge and understanding of the organization.

The project and organization's risk managers can highlight the most risky steps and work with quality managers to support a successful outcome. By asessing the most critical tasks from a quality perspective, risks can be identified and decisions made about the most appropriate actions. Continuous improvement can be seen as less important when a task will only be done once in a project. Most project management methods stipulate that lessons learned must be recorded, be analyzed and feed continuous improvement both in projects and organization. The quality manager's role continues beyond the project and in the wider organization making them the ideal person to hold these records.

The quality manager has a role as the project manager's independent adviser. Because the quality manager will have an independent reporting line, their objective advice can be invaluable. The quality manager's route to senior management can also assist a project manager to resolve organizational issues that are blocking the progress.

Project managers are tasked with delivering results that are pleasing to stakeholders, on time and within budget. Time, cost and quality must be traded off against each other to deliver optimum solution. Having the support of the quality manager when making decisions about varying the quality helps to ensure that compromises are realistic and accepatable.

The quality manager has one more role: their broader view of the project and the organization is invaluable when informing senior managers, project sponsors and HR at a strategic level. Each year a number of projects fail because organizations do not have the capability in resources, the experience or the technology to complete the project successfully.

The quality manager's insights into the team, objectives and organizational issues are especially useful to the project sponsor as assurance that the overall quality of processes within a project is working. They may also be asked by the project sponsor to participate in its internal assurance activities where they can bring expert knowledge and experience and moderate the project team' work.

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