Let us round out the role of quality leader:
Even if there is a quality leader in the project team he does not become accountable for the quality of what is delivered. Each author remains accountable for the quality of the work they produce. With one exception to that rule. If, heaven forbid, the quality at the end of your project is awful and you, the project manager, conclude the reason is that the inspections had not been done properly then you shoot the quality leader! It was his job to make sure the team did the inspections properly and if they weren't to come and tell you about it.
But imagine this. You are the quality leader of a software project that your company is doing for a client. The team leaders are refusing point blank to let their team members do the planned inspections. Why? Because they are behind schedule. What would you do?
You go and speak to the project manager and point out that the way things are going the quality is going to be terrible. But the project manager says: "never mind about that, we've got a date to meet for the client." What would you do now?
You speak to the project manager's boss, say you're being overruled and that quality checks are being skipped. And you show the statistical evidence that quality is going to be poor.
Let's say this triggers an independent health check and they conclude you are right, it's going to be a disaster in quality terms the way things are going. The senior manager removes the project manager and the new project manager tells the client he is going to delay delivery by two months to ensure a good quality system is delivered.
The point of the story (and by the way any similarity to real events, characters or projects is purely coincidental) is that the quality leader has a real responsibility to protect both the supplier and the client from the consequences of poor quality.
In that example it was the supplier who, belatedly, dealt with the problem and sorted it out before delivery - the client was fortunate.
Suppose you are the client sponsor of a software project. When it's delivered and installed your company's business will depend upon that system working properly. If the quality is really bad it could even put you out of business. Who would you make accountable for the quality of what was delivered to you? You might appoint a project manager in your company to manage the project and the relationship with the software supplier. You would make him, your in-house project manager, accountable for the quality of the system the software supplier delivers to you. Now put yourself in the position of that project manager. You're accountable for the quality delivered by the supplier! What would you do?
Well, you'd make very sure the supplier had good quality management procedures in place - you may even commission independent consultants to conduct an audit of the supplier's quality processes if you didn't have the expertise to do it yourself. You might contractually oblige the supplier to put a quality leader in place and you might oblige them to present to you each month the sort of quality measurements we have seen in this chapter. Do you really want to see the numbers? Not really. What you do want is evidence that they, the supplier, are managing quality as they go along. You may even want them to predict and commit to, on pain of penalties, the maximum number of errors they will deliver in the final system.
Let us bear in mind also that even if you are outsourcing a software development project you're not outsourcing the whole project - only the easy bit, the technical, design build and test. The bit that will have the most influence on the final quality - the defining of the requirements and reviewing and approving the user functions design - will be your in-house responsibility. Only your people, the users, can define the requirement; only your people can verify that the system design is correct. You, the client project manager, have got a very powerful incentive to ensure that your company invests users' time up front and in things like inspections and simulations if you will be accountable for the final product meeting the business need and having few or no errors.
When should the quality leader be appointed? In an in-house project, where the project manager is managing the project from start to finish, the quality leader should be one of the first appointments that is made - the quality leader should be in place right from the beginning of the project. It needs to be made clear to him that it is his responsibility to ensure the team do whatever it takes to make the project's deliverables good quality. The quality leader should also be told that half way through the project - at the end of the UFD step - his job title will change and he will become the system test leader/manager. Why should this work like a charm? If the quality is bad come system test, who will spend those nice warm summer evenings and weekends in the office during system test? The system test leader. This should give him a powerful incentive to ensure the team really do get the bugs out at the requirements and UFD stages.
Quality leaders tend to select themselves - they have a passion, even an obsession about quality (a good thing!), about things being right - and they drive the rest of the team accordingly.
How might we appraise the quality leader - how do we know if they have done a good job? If the team find 50 errors when checking the UFD and 50 more come to light later in the project, was a good job done at the UFD inspections and simulations? No, only 50% of the errors were found. Blame the quality leader. If by contrast the team found 90 at the inspections and simulations and only 10 came to light later, the quality leader did a great job in getting the team to check things properly. And if 95% of the errors are found at any stage that's pretty spectacular - give the quality leader a pay rise.
Similarly, if system test finds 50 bugs and 50 are found in live running how good a job was done by the test team? Abysmal. If testing finds 95%? Wow.
There is a risk that people will start building errors in so that they can be found by inspection and make the numbers look good. This shouldn't happen but it may be worth gently pointing out to the team that since performance appraisals and possibly salary increases partly depend upon these metrics, fiddling the figures would constitute fraud.
With really good quality management in place it becomes possible to establish benchmarks.
Let's say we typically find 20 errors per 100 pages at UFD inspections. That's the benchmark.
If next time around the team find 50 errors what would your suspicion be? Maybe they're getting
sloppy and submitting half-baked work to inspection (or building in errors so that they can be found
- not that they would do that, of course...). And if next time they only find 2 errors per 100 pages what would you suspect?
They are not doing the inspections properly. You can investigate and take action - you're really
beginning to manage quality.
Project Management Book
Copyright M Harding Roberts 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Home Sitemap Contact Us Project Management Articles Project Management Book IT Project Management Course