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Why is quality assurance important in programmes and projects?

You’re sitting at your desk going through your emails and you see the subject line: Request for Meeting: Quality Assurance Audit.

Do you:

  1. Delete the email and if questioned deny all knowledge of ever receiving it
  2. Mark it as read and forget about it until the second reminder
  3. Respond immediately and enthusiastically

If you’ve answered 1 or 2, you need to read the rest of this blog post! If you answered 3 you should know that you’ve been added to the secret Quality Manager list, which means every time there is an audit you’ll be picked.

Why do the quality team have to bug me with this audit crap?

You’re busy, have deadlines and can’t be bothered with this. Can’t they go and harass someone else?

Contrary to popular perception, quality managers aren’t in the business of trying to drive programme and project managers to drink with requests for audits. There are sound reasons for rigorous quality assurance across programmes and projects and they have nothing to do with policing the work that project and programme managers do.

Quality assurance can be carried out at any stage of a programme or project and can focus on one particular aspect or look at the entire initiative. It is designed to give the programme or project stakeholders confidence that their expectations will be met and that the initiative is on track.

It is designed to answer the following questions:

  • Are you doing, or planning to do, the right things?
  • Do you have the right processes, procedures and tools in place to help you achieve the planned outcomes?
  • Is there solid governance in place to aid good decision making?
  • Do you have access to the right resources at the right times?
  • What do your key milestones say?
  • Are you seeing the level of progress you expected to see?
  • Is the organisation ready for the changes that the programme or project will bring?
  • Are you seeing the benefits you forecast at the beginning of the programme or project?
  • Are the assumptions that were made in the business case still valid, or do they need to be revisited?

So why do they need to play show and tell?

Quality assurance focuses on evidence and the best way to do that is to interview people involved in the programme or project and look at key documentation – such as the business case, the schedule, the risk and issues registers, the budget and the status reports.

As well as interviewing you, the people doing the quality assurance check will also be interviewing stakeholders, members of the steering committee and some of the end customers so that they can get a full picture of the status of the initiative. Depending on the type of programme or project, the QA team may also interview suppliers and other third parties.

What happens after I’ve been interrogated?

Once the entire audit is completed, the quality team will prepare a report documenting the findings. This will include any corrective actions that need to be put in place, as well as a deadline for when this needs to be done. Depending on the type of corrective action, the team may schedule a follow up meeting.

I’ve been forced into accepting the meeting, what do I need to do to prepare?

As a programme or project manager you should be intimately familiar with the working and current state of your programme or project. It might be worth having the key programme or project documents available. Be prepared to be as open and honest as possible. The quality assurance team aren’t out to get you or trip you up.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has shown that quality assurance adds value to programmes and projects and that it isn’t a complete waste of your time.

How can Psoda help?

Psoda has all of your programme and project information making it very easy for the quality team to audit. You don’t even have to print the key documentation – just give them read only access and be available to answer any questions.

Sign up for your free trial today to see for yourself how Psoda can help you.

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