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Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Who is Responsible for Project Quality?

In general, the project manager has overall responsibility for the quality management process. Some projects may also have specific roles for a quality assurance person or quality experts.

Even if the project has specific people with responsibilities for quality, project quality is not the responsibility of one or two people. It is everyone's responsibility. All the team members, including the stakeholders, have a role in ensuring that the deliverables produced are of high quality. Everyone is also responsible for surfacing ideas for improvement to the processes used to create the project deliverables. Some projects may also have specific roles for a quality assurance person or quality experts.

  • The project manager– Responsible for developing the quality management process and for ensuring that all the goods and services are delivered as they were designed.
  • Team members- Responsible for quality assurance and quality control for each of the tasks and activities they are assigned to complete. They are also responsible for ensuring all the quality standards are followed as designed.
  • The Organization- Responsible for standardizing quality controls and standards across all projects, responsible for ensuring all staff have the skills to deliver quality products and services.
  • Stakeholders– Responsible for communicating their expectations of quality product and services to the project and the organization, and responsible for accepting and approving the delivery of all goods and services

 

Quality is Not an Event

For Quality management to be effective, the team needs to adopt a continuous quality mindset. Team members need to take ownership of the deliverables they produce and ensure that all project deliverables are developed with quality when they are first created.  Team members must realize that a quality process allows the entire project team to produce quality deliverables, with a minimal amount of errors and rework.

Project quality starts with planning, but the implementation of quality must be carried out throughout the project. A holistic  approach to quality will include the following items.

  • Quality Definition, determining the quality standards for the project.
  • Quality Assurance, ensuring that quality is built into every element of the project.
  • Quality Control, monitoring and auditing quality.
  • Quality Improvements, making improvements to the project that will increase quality levels.

The project manager leads the quality management process from start to end and ensures that all parties involved have a good understand of the quality standards that will be used in the project. All quality management processes should be agreed and communicated to all participants.

An important strategy for quality management is to develop and foster a quality culture, by encouraging the belief that the right level of quality is more important than delivering the project under cost and under schedule. Everyone that participates in the project has a role to play in delivering quality results.

 
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The Roles of the Project Manager

Development organizations appoint a project manager for the depth of his or her technical skills. It is not unusual to find a good engineer being promoted to project manager just for his or her technical competence. While it is true that one must have a good understanding of the technical aspects of the project, project managers are also required to have good management skills such as communicating; planning, negotiating, coaching, decision-making, and leadership. These skills are often overlooked at the time of hiring or appointing a project manager.

The job descriptions for a project manager need to be more explicit in defining the managerial skills and competencies required for the job. Organizations usually assign a project manager with the idea that all that is required is expertise in a technical area and often forget the need to have a project manager with the skills to lead a project team, coordinate the use of resources, communicate with stakeholders and manage the project constraints, all at the same time.

Organizations need to build a better understanding of the role of a project manager and understand that this role is not the same as a technical manager. The project manager role is one of integrator, communicator and facilitator; this role is of equal or more importance than the role of a technical manager.

There are three critical roles of the project manager:

  • Integrator; ensures all the project activities, strategies and approaches are an integrated effort.
  • Communicator; most of the work is spent communicating with all stakeholders and building the right support and relationships.
  • Leader; motivating and inspiring a team to deliver the project work by providing a vision and direction.

A key responsibility of the project manager is to ensure the proper integration of the project management processes and coordinate the project phases through the project management cycle. This responsibility is to ensure that all areas of the project come together to deliver the project to a successful conclusion. This is the main role of the project manager; it is not related to the technical responsibilities of the project, which in most cases are managed by the project staff. The role of integrator involves three specific areas of responsibility:

  • Develop the project management plans, which consists of the development of all project planning documents into a consistent, coherent project plan document.
  • Implement the project plan, which involves the execution of the project plan and ensuring all activities are performed by all the people involved.
  • Monitor and control the plan, which involves measuring the initial results against the intended objectives and coordinating all changes to the plans.

As a communicator, the project manager ensures that all stakeholders receive the right information at the right time. This is an important role. The project manager has a holistic view of the project and is in the best position to know the why, when, what and how the project is doing and communicate progress, changes and risks to the parties involved. Studies confirm that the project manager spends about 80% of his/her time communicating. Project managers in the role of communicator assume three functions:

  • Gathering information from project staff and other people involved with the project.
  • Analyzing the information and make sense of its implications.
  • Distributing the information to the internal and external environments, such as the donor, beneficiaries, and the public to gain support for the project.

As leader, the project manager must ensure the team and project stakeholders have an understanding of the project vision. A leader inspire others to achieve the project objectives, the leader encourages full participation from the project team, promotes mutual understanding with the beneficiaries and cultivates shared responsibility among all project stakeholders.

The leadership role implies the skills to:

  • Facilitate: To ease and assist the project team to do their work.
  • Coordinate: To organize, direct and synchronize the efforts of all involved in the project.
  • Motivate: To inspire, stimulate and encourage the team to achieve the project objectives.

 These roles are integrated and cannot be treated as separate, and they are critical to the success of any project manager.

Want to learn more? Register for the next session of our online course, Leadership in Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs. Register now and obtain a 20% discount with the promo code 20LPM. Click on the link to find out more about this course. https://www.pm4dev.com/elearn/ecourses/elpm.html

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