Project quality assurance and control

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Something happened today that made me think of this topic. It had nothing to do with project management - I was in the ER with my two year old son and the physician sent us home with a prescription for a lethal dosage of his medicine. Our pharmacist caught it, I would have caught it because I had been giving him this prescription all along...but what if another family member gave the dosage? What if a nurse in the ER had given the medication to him before we went home tonight? I had a very serious phone discussion with the doctor who made the error about an hour ago.

But in terms of project management - when has quality been a huge issue and what have you done or what did you do to rectify the situation so issues can be avoided in the future?

For me, the first one that comes to mind is a project from about 5 years ago where my business analyst was producing the FDD (functional design document) deliverable and contained several punctuation and grammatical errors as well as formatting errors due to the PDF creator program he was using. He was overloaded on multiple projects and quality was not emphasized enough. The result for us - and a common result in situations like this - is a decreased confidence and satisfaction level from the customer because they may start to question every deliverable and every piece of code or report you produce.

My corrective measure was to start peer reviewing just about everything we produced on that project and future projects...because oversights like that can happen to anyone.

How about you? Do you have instances that you can share where you learned quality lessons and incorporated corrective measures or checks and balances so quality stays at the forefront?

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That's really quite shocking Brad, and must be a relief it was noticed in time.

In the UK there has been much talk of whether surgeons should use checklists when performing operations. This follows stories of patients having items left inside them. In software development we have peer review and pair programming that aims to promote quality. Why not have checklists for doctors and surgeons. Mistakes happen and more so in the long hours culture of today.

I'll call out checklists as one of the most useful and simple tools in promoting quality.

Glad it worked out.

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