The changes achieved through projects are governed by the inter-action of 4 variables: time, cost, quality and scope. Changing one of the variables will affect one or more of the remaining three. However, since scope, time and costs are often set many levels removed from those performing the work, it is often in quality where pressure is felt (i.e. increasing the scope of work will require an increased budget and schedule if quality is not to suffer).
In the short-term, poor quality often necessitates re-work which increases costs and delays completion. However, in the long-term, failure to address the underlying issues that caused the loss in quality can result in repeated poor performance, leading to reputational damage and loss of business.
A longer-term solution is the conduct of root cause analyses to understand why the expected performance level is not being achieved; the use of tools such as Six Sigma may be appropriate, as will the application of systems-thinking. Additionally, such technical interventions are most successfully implemented when complemented by cultural change, achieved through effective leadership and a review of incentives to encourage and empower everyone to see quality as ‘their’ concern and not just that of the QC team.
For information on lessons learned meetings, at which these issues have been raised time and again, please visit the Knoco website.