Resolving Quality Problems

Quality problems may not be raised to the level of an issue, but they are problems nonetheless and can be resolved using some of the same problem-solving techniques described in Managing Issues. Guessing the cause of the problem rarely works. A structured approach works much better. You want to not only resolve this particular problem, but you also want to understand the problem well enough so that you can identify the root cause and ensure that this particular quality problem does not occur again.

Use the following general process to identify and resolve quality problems.

1. Project Manager, Identify the problem or symptom

You should not assume that everyone knows the problem already. Take the time to document the problem in clear terms that everyone can understand. Make sure that you also explain the impact of the quality problem to the project.

2. Project Manager, Identify the root cause

This is the most important step, since you do not want to spend your time resolving a symptom of quality. Instead you should be very clear on the root cause and explain how the root cause ultimately results in the problem. If you cannot track the root cause to the perceived problem, you have not taken your investigation far enough. There are a number of issues management techniques that describe how to focus in on the root cause.

3. Project Manager, Determine alternatives and impacts

The project manager may assign one or more people to determine alternatives. For each alternative, they should also address the impact to the project.

4. Project Manager, Team Member, Select the best alternative

The project team and client can all be involved with determining the best alternative. However, the project team may be able to resolve the problem on its own since the problem is not a formal issue. In fact, it could be a problem with interim work products that would totally be in the control of the project team.

5. Project Manager, Resolve the problem

A mini-plan is put into place to address the quality problem and implement the chosen alternative. These activities should be moved into the project schedule to ensure that they are performed

6. Project Manager, Validate the problem is resolved

The process must be re-validated to ensure that the quality has improved as expected. If the quality has improved or is moving in that direction, you may just have to monitor from then on. However, if the quality is not improving as expected, further corrective action may be required.

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