MANAGING CHANGE – SIX STEPS TO IMPROVING QUALITY – SETTING UP A QUALITY STANDARD

In managing change as well as projects and programmes, we all talk a lot about quality and quality standards but how to you establish a standard.  Here are some tips

  1. Do you already have quality standards in your organization. Do you work in a large organization.  If so, someone has probably done the job for you.  If you have a central programme or portfolio office or Centre of Excellence they should be able to guide and advise you. If you have a central unit the chances are, you are required to use their standards anyway.   Even if you don’t have a central unit ask other managers what they use and consider using their’s as a starting point from which to develop your own ideas!
  2. Set up a quality group. Assemble a team from those with an interest in your work or your  project .  Start out by asking them what they think acceptable standards would be for the area they are interested in.  Then use them to monitor as you go to make sure you achieve the standard.    You’d be surprised how willing people are to help with this kind of activity!
  3. Understand how others perceive quality. You can conduct interviews with interested people and your stakeholders to ensure you understand the expectations for what you are trying to deliver.  For example, for an IT project, you could discuss expectations with managers about  usability and support. Ask them what they think is needed to deliver a successful project. You may think this is an obvious question, but some responses may give you a very different perspective on your stakeholders’ values, and also what isn’t important to them. Don’t underestimate the power of these interviews: they can help to align your perceptions of quality with those who have the major interest in what you do!
  4. Start with a template. There are lots of standard quality plans and templates out there – trying searching on the internet!  So you shouldn’t have to start with a blank sheet of paper. Use a good, robust template with options to pick and choose what might apply to your organization and project.
  5. Develop a consequence for each quality standard. For each standard you should identify what will happen if you don’t achieve it!  If the answer is not much, then it isn’t a real quality standard .  Don’t throw everything in – focus on what really counts.
  6. Review. Putting standards in place is a great way to ensure the quality of what you are delivering.  But you need to make sure they continue to be right!  Include a regular review.   Find whether or not they were used and what happened as a  result.  Revise and up date them as necessary to ensure they continue to  meet your organization’s needs.

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