Strategies to Fix Poor Project Quality

Maintaining acceptable quality across all the activities in a project—particularly when an initiative is complex, high visibility, or has a long duration—can be difficult. There are all sorts of reasons teams might see their project quality drop, and leaders need to be ready to quickly take action so they can keep initiatives headed toward a successful completion.

If you’re worried your project quality could be headed for trouble, consider these strategies to turn things around.

Begin with a review of the project timeline against reality. Is it possible your team is cutting corners to keep up with a too-frantic schedule? Have task durations been shortened too much to be workable? Look also at how frequently the project plan experiences significant change. If people don’t have enough notice about revisions that are made to their activity timelines, you could see lower quality results.

Try this: Pull the team together and discuss the state of the project plan. Flag key milestones and evaluate whether the current rate of progress is likely to result in delays of those critical dates. Once you understand today’s landscape, you can then work together to either identify opportunities to compress the timeline to get back on track or resequence tasks in line with a more realistic schedule.

Next, assess the resources available for project tasks. Initial staffing projections that were too low, or original budgets that were too lean, may be pushing the team to trim the tasks that call for more money or labor than the project can support. It’s also possible that resource conflicts are hampering the effort, with personnel, funds, or materials tied up elsewhere and unavailable when they’re needed by the project team.

Try this: When original resource forecasts don’t match the current need, it’s time to reassess how to plug the gaps. Is it possible to increase staffing or to gain access to additional funding sources? If approval for more resources isn’t likely to happen, you may need to find consolidation opportunities to make more efficient use of the resources you do have. It’s also helpful to evaluate what kind of role conflicts or bottlenecks are playing in the problem. Consider where your resource coordination efforts can be streamlined to eliminate those choke points.

You’ll also want to look for signs of scope creep. Even small expansions to the project’s parameters here and there can quickly snowball into overstuffed workloads, unexpected expenses, and a drop in quality as the tasks pile up. Discuss the potential for scope creep with your team and ask if stakeholders or sponsors have added anything to the project. Individually, your group may not have given much thought to an extra task, but by taking in the entire picture you might realize that the original project plan has grown exponentially and the resulting workloads are no longer realistic. 

Try this: It’s crucial that you put a halt to scope creep as soon as you spot it. A discussion with the project team will enable you to compile a list of every new task or achievable that didn’t go through the normal change order process. Those requests can then be presented to the project’s sponsors as well as the organization’s executive team for review. If any are approved, you’ll be in a position to revise the project plan and expand the scope, as well as leverage the authorization for additional resources to execute them. Out-of-scope requests that aren’t approved can be removed from the project plan and any resources they were consuming can be redirected and used to bring project quality back up to its normal standard.

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