Creating a Quality Organization in the New Millennium

PM Milestone Project Management Templates

PM Milestone 7000 Project Management Templates

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Perhaps as a commentary on our modern age, we could very well conclude that "systems, processes, and integrated technology do not a project make." Alas, we have found that all the quality tools and techniques and all the available project management systems and support personnel do not sum—simply by definition— to a quality product or service that satisfies the customer. Countless examples of failed projects testify to the need to build project quality management from the bottom up, starting with the individual. Unlike the work breakdown structure (WBS) that starts at the high-level view and drills down, a quality organization starts at the work package and individual level of effort level and builds up. The battle will be in trenches, not in the boardrooms, and the weapons of war will be undergirded by the individual will to excel, one by one.

Creating an organization that inspires individual project quality and professionalism will require new energy and new strategies. This new need stems from the forces for change, which have themselves changed. Five forces will shape the future quality organization:

Serious rededication to the work ethic and the individual will and passion to make a difference

Flexible organizational structure with purpose Full cycle customer involvement Embedded quality and the slow disappearance The coming of age of the Internet

Individual Work Ethic

The collectivist philosophy that focused on teams and teamwork for such a long time has been an important ingredient to building project success, but we know that the and direction of a separate quality culture team itself is not the secret to integration and quality work. It still remains that unless individual team members understand customer requirements and their role in accomplishing customer satisfaction, quality will remain an elusive and increasingly foreign concept. The movement back to the individual places accountability for integration where it belongs; with each team member whose tasking derives directly from the work itself.

That is why it is important to see the tools and techniques in this book as individual, even personal tools of success, applied by team members, sometimes in teams but always in the privacy of their own work and job setting. Quality function department is a tool to transform customer requirements to product specifications on a broad systems scale, but the same technology can be applied by individuals trying to pin down how to meet their "downstream" customer's needs in the value chain of the daily work process.

Flexible Organization

The flexible organization of the future that can respond to integrated programme will create the conditions of success for project quality management. New telecommunication networks and techniques will allow the development of virtual groups who work together without the need to meet regularly in one place. Customers will be fully integrated into the project process, helping to make key decisions and participating and learning as team members. Jobs will be defined in terms of the deliverables themselves, not in terms of longer term, recurring function job descriptions with little meaning in the real world of project deliverables. The individualization of information will focus large amounts of project information in the hands of individuals, without the middle man and without system delays, thus empowering individuals to act on project information rapidly and responsively.

Full Cycle Customer Involvement

While the wide debate continues on the role and function of the customer in project quality management, there will be no such debate in the future as the customer becomes a full and assimilated partner in the project team. Instead of self-directed team, a new concept will surface which might be termed, "customer-directed team." The customer will be able to drive the project quality process by direct decisions on specifications, design issues, change, and project team performance.

Embedded and Integrated Quality

Quality will be fully embedded into policies, processes, and procedures, and corporate and team/group practices will increasingly reflect quality assurance and control principles. In the project management field, we will see quality fully reflected in goal setting task. While the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, the issue of embedding quality into individual practice will remain a difficult challenge.

Related to the individual practice issue described above, this issue has to do with building quality professionals in projects who have a detailed grasp of their industry sectors and their business, who know and use project planning and control techniques, and who practice in their daily work habits the concept of doing things right the first time.

The Internet

The coming of age of the Internet is changing project quality management by gathering project information through the Web and providing real time, personalized project information that will not only present relevant project data, but also translate that data into impacts, individual and team tasking, and follow up action lists. In other words, the Internet will enable the capture of decision rules and protocols which will automatically assess project performance, come up with optional corrective actions, choose the most cost-effective tool, and advise the team member. Likened to artificial intelligence, this new system of project quality management will anticipate quality issues based on current project data, address corrective actions, and build documentation for lessons learned.

The Internet will enable this new planning tool to operate without substantial cost because "Project" firms providing such services will increasingly gain revenues from avoiding project penalties and realizing incentive awards.

Universal Avionics, Inc. integrated quality into its product development process through a number of test and safety related protocols that are an integral part of the government's certification of its products for use in aircraft. A good example of meeting customer requirements by adhering to regulatory and industry standards practices, this approach defines quality as the successful completion of the procedures, tests, and exercises described in the customer's lexicon, in this case the Federal Aviation Administration's avionics certification requirements. This is a good example of the use of an industry standard such as failure assessment protocols as third party guidance for quality that both the customer (a corporate aircraft owner) and the project firm (Universal Avionics, Inc.) could support. In this case quality is not an external process (although the company has an external quality function largely focused on documentation and ISO compliance), but rather quality is embedded into the product development process itself. Their design verification and validation process, which address the question of whether the designed product will meet specifications (verification) and whether the product will work (validation), are part of the generic WBS for all company products.

The mere presence of the Internet will have substantial impacts on the field of project management, but the most important impacts will be in the field of product development, engineering, and information technology. Project quality management cannot be seen out of context from the industry sector and product development/engineering issues involved. Therefore, project management as a generic approach to cost, schedule, and quality is a hollow effort, until combined and integrated with technical and product specific processes. Therefore, the Internet's impacts on project management will funnel through the impacts on various product groups such as electronics and various functional groups such as software engineering.

Tracking Change and Integrating Midstream Correction

In this chapter, we take a rather unconventional approach to scheduling, budgeting, and monitoring project progress. We start with project goals and the monitoring process and work backward, a sort of backward mapping of the project process to give perspective to what is important up front. Our discussion is based on the rule of thumb, most notably demonstrated in Europe than in the United States, that the front end planning of a project should normally represent at least 50% of the whole project process. We key the discussion of monitoring on the use of modern project management software, not only to flag earned value and lessons learned, but also to look ahead regularly and intensely to project completion with a new tool, which we term "the future value indicator." The future value indicator is the extent of new value to be added to the project in the remaining cycle time, largely a function of the value added to date, plus a prediction of new technology and marketing opportunities to be opened by the project.

Today, teams are the organizational structure of choice to meet the challenges of the global environment. People working together for a common goal in teams are absolutely essential to success. Teams maximize the use of human resources in the organization. In project management, functional, process, and multifunctional teams ensure that all aspects of the project are integrated to achieve the desired end result satisfying the customer(s). Teams provide better decisions and the motivation to carry them out. Everyone can participate in a team. Relationships are nurtured for improved working coordination. Working together for a common goal leads to increased job satisfaction and rewards in the work itself. Teams foster freer contribution of information through more active communication. Further, the organization is thrust toward a common goal and an organization-wide perspective is fostered through teamwork. Teams provide the rapid, responsive organizational structure that is necessary for any organization to compete successfully in the ever-changing economic environment of today and the future.

Traditional organizations in government and private industries, usually are not geared to using teams, especially project teams, to their full advantage. They do not structure project teams to both perform and improve the project. Normally, the project team is only responsible for completing the project. Thus, there is much inefficiency and redundancy in the kind of organization that uses one kind of team to perform the project and in some of the more progressive organizations another kind of team to seek out quality improvements and build a customer-driven culture. In a traditional organization, management concepts typically focus on outputs and profits. The focus is on cost, schedule, and quality, usually in that order. Quality in the traditional sense only means that the product or service meets technical acceptance. Traditional organizations do not empower teams with the responsibility, authority, and resources to continuously improve their processes geared toward customer satisfaction or "quality" in the total quality sense. In these organizations, it is difficult to compete in the global marketplace because productivity and quality are separate and suppliers and the customer are isolated from each other.

Customer-driven teams are the preferred organizational structure for performing a project as efficiently and effectively as possible to satisfy customer's expectations. The customer-driven team focuses on both—working on a project and continuously improving the project. Customer-driven teams strive to marry productivity and quality through all phases of a project. In addition, customers and suppliers are linked from the external customer throughout the organization by supplier and customer relationships. Only through customer-driven teams, empowered to perform and improve all aspects of their project, can an organization use project management for true success in satisfying the customer, whether the customer is external or internal to the organization.

Traditional Project Teams

Traditional project management teams place accountability for results in one manager—the program manager who uses a disciplined planning, direction, control, and evaluation approach. That project manager is a member of the supplying organization, not the customer's organization. The basic function of the traditional project manager is to control quality, cost, and schedule; to manage the team's work; and to assure the effective and efficient delivery of a project deliverable, acceptable to the customer within schedule and budget constraints. The traditional matrix project group borrows people from the functional departments of the organization, such as, engineering, manufacturing, logistics/supportability, marketing, finance, human resources, and the like, and pulls them into a project organization. The project manager focuses the team on the project specifications and requirements, and keeps the customer informed as necessary.

This structure has presented major problems for many projects, mainly because the customer is typically uninvolved in the key decisions in the project life cycle. Once a contract is signed, the supplying organization project manager is likely to feel "in charge" to the point that the team's creative and innovative efforts are too rapidly and too narrowly targeted on building the specification, instead of developing a fuller understanding of the customer's performance issues and expectations as the project "learning" progresses.

This tendency to isolate the project manager and the team from the customer too quickly is rooted in the propensity of project managers and project management organizations to drive projects by schedule and cost rather than by quality. This is due to the project manager's need to be "in control." Usually the project manager can establish some control of cost and schedule within its organization. However, since quality is defined by customer satisfaction, quality can be a changing requirement. Therefore, project managers place extreme pressure on the customer to lock in on customer needs early in the concept phase of the project through quality standards and specifications, with little assurance that any adjustments can be made once the project proceeds into definition. In addition, customer satisfaction requires full communication between the supplier and the customer. This is difficult when the project manager emphasizes specifications, statement of work, schedules, and budgets instead of the customer's needs. Further, traditional project managers ignore the "learning curve" in both the supplier's and customer's organization during the life cycle of the project. Without continuous improvement based on customer satisfaction, the project deliverables often do not meet the customer's needs and expectations in a changing environment.

The Texture of Integration

The texture of the integrated project management organization differs from the traditional organization in many ways. The focus on integration gives the organization a responsive tone that creates a constant impetus for defining and scheduling work, resolving problems, and getting tasks accomplished. Integration is a broader, deeper concept than simple teamwork. In the project firm, the support functions are lean, and the role of supervisor is shared between project managers and functional managers, each observing and monitoring the work of project team members. The project organization is characterized by flurries of activity, crashing projects, and accelerating milestones with a view toward on time performance. And perhaps most of all the project organization is intensely aware of the customer and the customer voice.

Unfortunately, all too often the customer is seen as a negative influence, a source of change and "scope creep" that interferes in the accomplishment of carefully scheduled tasks performed in a critical path of interdependence and handoffs. Ironically, the project organization, so close to the customer, often disengages from the customer at critical points in the project simply to avoid complications toward the end of the project cycle.

Integration and Ethics and Internal Control Management

Project integration supports accountability and ethical behavior because integration tends to increase the visibility of program and project operations to a wider variety of stakeholders. Thus, the better the various perspectives are reflected in the work, thus requiring project work to be visible to all the levels of the organization, the more that accountability problems can be uncovered early and often. Sarbanes-Oxley requirements for CEO level awareness of costs generate a new impetus for reporting earned value to top management as part of the monitoring process. Cost control is now seen as a key aspect of projects, which heretofore has been viewed only in terms of on-time delivery.

Vertical Integration of Businesses: Another Application of Integration

Gareth Morgan in Images of Organization (Sage, 2d ed., 1996, p. 65) hints at the integrative nature of organizations, now a clearly predominant model for partnering at the global level:

Examples of day-to-day collaborative relations between organizations in different industries or in different parts of the same industry are also very common. For example, firms often cultivate interlocking directorships to create a measure of shared decision making and control, engage in joint ventures to pool expertise or share risk in research and development, strike agreements with suppliers or manufacturers to achieve a measure of "vertical integration" of production, and engage in numerous kinds of informal networking. Sometimes, they also establish informal joint organizations to link firms that have an interest in special problems or lines of development. For example, in the financial services industry it is not uncommon for banks, trust companies, insurance firms, and other interested agencies to offer joint services, in effect creating a new form of organization at the level of the industry. Similar developments can be seen in many other areas as well.

Project Integration Lessons Learned

One way to learn about the consequences of the lack of integrated project management is to hold a lessons learned meeting in the close-out phase. This meeting explores the extent to which integration was effective in the project. The following questions would be asked.

Was the team focused on a single set of goals and deliverables? Did the scope of work change without anyone documenting it? Were resources (e.g., test equipment) allocated to resolve problems quickly? Were contingency plans in place when necessary?

Was documentation integrated with project progress, for instance, were software outputs and others documented as the team progressed?

Was communication across disciplines good, and were functional and project activities synchronized?

Did corporate heads communicate a consistent priority status to the project and was the project aligned with business plans in practice?

Were team members responsive to each other so that downstream integration issues were avoided?

Did the scheduling and monitoring process focus on the right integration issues?

Was the program manager open to change and was he flexible in responding to team issues?

Did company process and procedure requirements, and differing interpretations of document requirements, sometimes act as barriers to necessary work?

Were policies and procedures integrated with project work?

Was the document numbering system integrated with project codes?

Was training integrated with the real skills necessary to complete the project work?

Was effective integration inhibited because the team did not have the "big picture" on the project; sometimes the big picture helps to facilitate doing your job.

Were meeting agendas integrated with the current status of the project and real issues being faced by the project team?

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