I have been expounding here for a while that Prince2 is a proven best practice methodology for the delivery of projects. It is proven in practice for both private enterprise and the public sector projects. It has been in existence since 1989 and is the most widely used method for delivering projects in Europe.
When a project manager is instructed to kick off a project one of the first things they should be focusing on is what does success look like or how do I define success.
If we step back and consider the role of the project manager and the team in a Prince2 project we will immediately recognise that it is not for the project manager to define success but the business or customer.
So the answer to how do I define success is: I don’t. The business or customer does. We therefore must liaise closely with the business or customer early in the project.
But what if the business or customer is unsure of what they want. How do we deal with this situation? I suggest you take guidance from Prince2. This is where applying the Prince2 methodology will assist you greatly.
There are two parts of Prince2 which give guidance on defining requirements, they are the Plans and Quality themes. Let’s go through a simple scenario concentrating on the Prince2 approach to quality in your project and it will greatly increase your chances of success. But before that what is quality?
What is Quality in Projects?
According to Prince2 it is ‘the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of a product or service fulfils requirements’.
So we need to focus on features and functions of the products or services we are delivering in order to deliver on quality and satisfy the customer. Here are the steps using a house build project.
Prince2 Steps to Delivering on a Quality Product or Service
Step 1 Capture your customers’ expectations for the project
This is a statement of the expected quality of the projects product. Example: it is expected that the house will be a warm energy efficient low maintenance family home with landscaped rear garden
Tips: ask the customer for key or stand-out requirements. Try and apply a standard or regulation if possible. e.g. building regulations. Ask about key measurements e.g. minimum floor area size. Try and priorities these requirements if possible
Step 2 Define the projects acceptance criteria
These are measurable definitions which you will use to delivery your outputs to. They are crucial to project success. Examples: exact measurements, major functions, number of rooms, level of décor and energy rating.
Tips: sit down with the customer and explicitly agree these criteria. It is advisable to allow the customer the right of reply for a defined period to be sure, as far as possible, everything is covered.
Step 3 Define the projects approach to delivering on quality (acceptance criteria)
The customer is now taking a backseat and you are sitting down with your team to decide the best approach to delivering on the acceptance criteria. This is your quality plan.
Tips: Include the following as a minimum – any procedures and processes you need to apply e.g. metrics, standards, regulations etc – tools and techniques you will use e.g. testing and inspections – how you will record results of testing or inspections – how you will report on quality activities and when – timing of quality activities e.g. testing once a week or after an element is built – responsibilities for undertaking quality activities
Step 4 Define the customers rights of inspection
It is important that the customer has rights of inspection during the project but they should be documented early and adhered to.
Tips: include the key quality requirements for inspection – identify standards and processes to be applied to achieve the specified quality. e.g. building regulations and say ISO50001 – identify which quality system should be used project based or the customers – at times proxy measures might suffice to prove quality
Step 5 Conduct your quality activities
Now you are doing what you planned to do.
Tips: two things are important here. 1. Follow your quality plan to the letter. 2. If quality issues start to accumulate be quick to get to the root cause and amend your quality plan to reflect the situation and re-baseline your deliverables.
Step 6 Seek acceptance records
It is importance to get approvals for the deliverables as you progress through the project. e.g. the foundations, walls and roof can be signed of when built and not waiting till the end.
Tips: seek written records of approvals – document any concessions granted by the customer
The step outlined above makeup just a small part of the Prince2 approach to quality in projects. Prince2 provides for a very robust approach to managing quality on a project. It is very prescriptive and includes a set of templates to assist the project manager to define and deliver on quality in their projects.