Quality method

There are many ways of testing a product, including:

e examination; e informal/formal review; e inspection; e demonstration.

In all cases, the product description is the yardstick against which the product itself is tested, and approval for the formal completion of the product can be sought only when the product is deemed fit for its purpose.

Quality method

Product title Purpose

Composition

Derivation Format

Audience

Course definition document

To ensure that the proposed course meets the client's needs such that approval y be granted for crcation of the materials. To provide a basis for change control To show how long the course will take to deliver To describe the objectives of the course

1. Introduction

2. Course duration

3. Course objectives

4. Instructional strategy

5. Prerequisites 6 Deliverables

7. Something about logistics

8. Timetable

9. Syllabus

Course requirements

A4 spiral-bound document, hardback and transparent cover bearing client's logo

Colour

Customer sponsor

Quality criteria 1. Does it satisfy each item from the course requirements?

2. Is the volume of course content achievable within the timescale?

3. Has at least 30 minutes been devoted to risk management?

4. Is the course based around a case study?

e been stated?

Annum nUinuêi Oi deieydLes pe

6. Is the document fit to be placed in front of a client?

7. Is it lony enough?

8. How clear is the content?

Quality method 1. finality review by supplier before presentation to client 2. Quality review by everyone else

Notes

1 There are multiple purposes listed, some of which duplicate what has rightly been included in the composition section.

2 This is unclear. The person charged with developing and delivering this product will need to know what is meant by this phrase.

3 These three examples are bad for different reasons. "Is the document fit to be placed in front of a client?" is subjective. The client's criteria need to be identified and written here instead. "Is it long enough?" is a closed question but begs the question "how long is long enough?". If the length of the document really matters, a better quality criterion would be: "Is the document less than ten pages long and more than five?" "How clear is the content?" is not a closed question, so any response will be a subjectivejudgment and of little value.

4 The product description has to answer the difficult questions as early in the project as possible. Proposing that a quality review will be carried out by everyone else suggests that either little thought has gone into deciding who should review the document, or that everyone really does need to review it. This will affect the number and fitness of the quality criteria.

There are many opportunities to introduce errors into a product description (see Figure 6.6).

Using product-based planning

Product-based planning is at the front end of the traditional planning process. It provides a means to articulate one of the three parts of a plan that is too often forgotten - quality - so that the time and cost components may be more reliably developed. The more that is known about the products of the project, the more robust the plan will be, so product descriptions should be developed as planning proceeds and greater clarity is gained.

It is highly desirable to involve the emerging project team in the planning process. It not only results in a better and more clearly defined outcome, but also promotes the involvement of senior stakeholders from whom approvals will be needed, and from team members who will be required to estimate the time and cost needed to deliver the project's products.

The people who have the task of delivering the project's products should be those who know them best. The project manager can never be an expert in every area of the project, so it makes sense for the product-based plan (particularly the product descriptions) to be developed in cooperation with the experts. The project manager should delegate creating some product descriptions to specific team members.

Having drawn up a product flow diagram, the team may be worried that a product description is needed for every product in it. However, in developing product descriptions, it makes sense to prioritise products that are critical, new or confusing, or all three. Producing proper product descriptions will lessen the risk of delivering something that is unfit and will need reworking.

Many organisations have a library of product-based plans and there is every reason to benefit from those drawn up for previous projects. This does not mean that a plan can be transferred from one project to another with a little tailoring, as all projects are unique. However, this is a great opportunity for the planners of the present to learn from planners of the past.

Another way of managing the potential number of product descriptions is to focus on the characteristics of the product that matter most. By shrinking the number of sections, it is possible to reduce the workload needed to create them. This can be achieved by replacing a number of product descriptions by a single table of product outlines (see Table 6.1).

Table 6.1 shows only five of the possible eight ways of characterising a product, but the loss of value arising from the absence of the remaining sections is balanced by creating an expression of quality that is more likely to be digested by the project steering group.

The product breakdown structure, the product flow diagram and the product descriptions will go through a number of changes, so maintaining robust control of the versions of the plan is important. New products

Table 6.1 Product outlines

Title

Audience

Purpose

Composition

Quality criteria

Gathered

Developer

To capture

1

Introduction

1

Have all current project

requirements

the needs of

2

Purpose of

practitioners been

the customer

training

included in an audience

such that a

3

Scope

group?

solution may

4

Audiences

2

Have training needs

be described.

5

Training needs

been prioritised?

6

Logistical

3

Does the scope include

requirements:

all departments within

- timing

the division?

- numbers

4

Does the timing avoid

- locations

bank holidays and the

month of August?

5

Have locations been

specified that enable

all delegates to

participate without

incurring overnight

accommodation costs?

Course

Customer

To confirm

1

Introduction

1

Does the document

definition

that the

2

Course duration

satisfy each item

document

intended

3

course

listed in the gathered

course

objectives

requirements?

satisfies the

4

Instructional

2

Is the volume of course

customer's

strategy

content achievable

needs such

5

prerequisites

within the allotted

that approval

6

Deliverables

timescale?

may be

7

Logistics

3

Has at least 30

granted for

8

Timetable

minutes been devoted

the creation

9

Syllabus

to the study of risk

of materials.

management?

4

Is the course based on a

case study?

5

Has a maximum number

of delegates been

stated?

Product breakdown structure for fitting out and marketing a new factory

will be identified, existing products will be considered too detailed or too high-level, and some products will become redundant as knowledge improves and the plan is rationalised further. For instance, when developing a product flow diagram, there may be suggestions that the product breakdown structure has identified products that have not been fully broken down. Figure 6.7 shows the product breakdown structure for fitting out and marketing a new factory.

The product "factory employees" may be described as "paid employees, working in the factory", but placing it in the product flow diagram highlights a risk (see Figure 6.8).

The risk is that employees may be in place before the factory installations are completed and are being paid before they can do productive work. If factory employees really means "staff who have been offered a role with the company", the plan is missing the original outcome, "paid employees working in the factory", which remains an essential project milestone. Factory employees needs refining on the product breakdown structure, as shown in Figure 6.9 on page 108.

Figure 6.10 on page 109 shows the revised product flow diagram. The reconsideration of one product has changed the plan significantly.

The product flow diagram contains no timescale or budgetary information. This means a draft can be produced relatively swiftly and the basic plan

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