Quality – Business Leaders and Project Managers Should Work Together to Increase the Quality of Their Products
Quality for Business Leaders and Project Managers
Every business leader wants a quality product yet defining “quality” can be overlooked or deemed something so obvious it is not worth the time to explain. Leaders need to pay attention to quality, and those driving the quality processes need to communicate in a way that resonates with the stakeholders. I have heard executives say, “I don’t get into the weeds, just get it done.” Sadly, that is a common leadership perception issue and a frequent communication problem for project managers. As part of any project, the project manager must work with the team to plan how quality will be managed and embedded in the final deliverables. Project managers position quality assurance procedures within the build upfront, then use quality control procedures to check that the output is suitable for delivery to the customer. Sayings like “quality built-in” or the “cost of quality“ refer to the project manager embedding quality processes and controls throughout the work.
Cost of Quality in Business
Generally, costs are lower when quality measures are built in from the beginning instead of having to go back and redo work that fails quality standards. According to the Harvard Business Review article Creating a Culture of Quality by Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey, https://hbr.org/2014/04/creating-a-culture-of-quality “A company with a highly developed culture of quality spends, on average, $350 million less annually fixing mistakes than a company with a poorly developed one.” Any CEO wants to keep costs down. The preventative costs of the quality assurance process and testing are lower than the costs of rework or the cost of a customer rejecting a product. Additionally, quality can be a huge strategic differentiator in winning new customers and retaining existing customers, and therefore should be kept in mind by the highest levels of leadership.
Business Leaders Should Focus on Quality
Quality should not be ignored by leaders. When a project manager and others responsible are working through the quality measures in the process, leaders must keep in mind the broader impact on cost and brand that make quality efforts so strategic to the entire company. As a CEO, I take pride in the quality of the training we deliver. We are diligent about the materials we create for customers and the instructors we hire to represent our organization. We continuously monitor for areas to improve through customer surveys and feedback. The time and effort invested in continuous quality improvement benefits our customers and enhances our brand within the industry. We set up control processes that monitor for issues and we are proactive when a potential issue is identified. Quality is core to our strategy and maintaining our competitive edge. Quality is valued by all employees and leaders, and a shared priority for all.
Direct and Indirect Costs of Quality
The many direct and indirect costs of releasing a faulty product have far bigger strategic implications than the cost of prevention. The results can be potentially catastrophic for an organization. Before a product release, poor quality can lead to the erosion of customer confidence, the reduction of employee confidence, difficult conversations with unsatisfied customers, unproductive teams, and poor talent retention. When the leaders and employees believe in the product, the quality of it is a reminder of why the preventative costs are well worth it. I am personally embarrassed when a customer is not satisfied. I want to avoid that negative impact on my own reputation and the expense of poor quality. I suspect that other leaders agree.
From a cost savings, company brand reputation, and leadership reputation standpoint, business leaders should be continuously and highly attuned to quality. Project managers should be thinking about broad implications when planning for quality and be consistently communicating to those leaders about quality.
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