We can consider quality management in a very simple project to see how it can be applied as ‘good enough’. A familiar project where quality is a driving priority is baking. Let’s consider a project where I make a batch of cupcakes for an event with my team. My quality standard is relative and subjective – I want the product to be as good as the last time I made them, or at least good enough to contribute to the event. The quality attributes are edibility, uniformity (all the same size, shape, and colour), producibility, social acceptability (not an offensive shape and clearly marked for contents (gluten, non-vegetarian, may contain nuts)), and popularity (hopefully few to no cupcakes left at the end of the event).
A challenge for many projects, especially in research, is describing the quality criteria and distinguishing it from scope. A really big clue that you're talking about quality is when those subjective words start happening - better, faster, smaller, less, more, cheaper.
This is the second of a short series of posts about quality management, to include some of my take-aways from teaching as part of the Mohawk College and CARA Research Administration Certificate program, as well as experiences in my own work related to quality.
Anyone who’s spent time with me learning or working on projects will have heard my philosophy on project quality: better is the enemy of good enough. Anything other than “excellent” can seem like failure, and yet putting in extra effort that will not be valued by the end user or other relevant parties means that resources (time, money, effort) are spent on things without any return. One area that can be challenging in the study of project management is the difference between scope and quality, and how to determine and measure quality, especially in research management.
As Robyn Roscoe and through Lyric Management, I deliver teaching and training in project management and leadership skills. I have been teaching again this year as part of the Mohawk College and CARA Research Administration Certificate program. As part of a discussion, the class considers effective approaches to conducting a post-implementation review – a project post-mortem or lessons-learned meeting. These are typically the last meetings a project team will have together before disbanding and moving on to new projects or back to their regular roles. Based on those discussions* over the past few years as well as my own experience, here are some approaches to consider in structuring your own reviews to effectively collect lessons for your next project.
I have been teaching this year as part of the Mohawk College and CARA Research Administration Certificate program. In a discussion, I was asked by students to describe the opposite of scope creep. As I've been presenting it, scope creep means small, incremental, and uncontrolled additions to scope - these become scope change when they are recognized and accepted into the project, with the corresponding changes to time, cost, and quality to accommodate the increased scope.
So what do we call it when scope gets smaller?
Who is Robyn?
My career as a research project manager is rewarding, dynamic, challenging, and fun. I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience in communication, organization, and common sense approaches in research management and leadership, and to enabling others to learn and grow in this exciting career.