Deming’s third point urges practitioners to design quality into processes, using inspection as an information-gathering tool to do so. The processes and systems that make up a project management system are called a methodology. Do you have a consistent method or are projects run by everyone in their own way? Continuous improvement allows you to look at project performance through the lense of continuous improvement. This will allow you to apply lessons learned to create a consistent and always-improving method. Without a consistent system for managing projects, this can’t be done effectively.
Projects are unique and may need to be managed differently because of this. However, if a consistent methodology is used, deviations can still be reviewed and improved by documenting best practices in specific categories of projects. The “deviations” can be developed into subject-specific best practices within the common framework. The?deviations? can be used to develop subject-specific best practice within the common framework. The methodology should serve as a guideline for the development of best practices and theories. The methods for estimating should be consistent. However, certain aspects of project management should be left to the individual project managers.
Too often, project inspection is used to blame or believe that project managers are behind schedule. Or applaud them when they are ahead. They shouldn’t be. A performance report that reveals a significant discrepancy between the planned time, cost, and quality should be considered an opportunity to go back to the planning process to determine why it was not. This information can be used to improve the planning process if the project manager followed the procedures outlined in the methodology. If execution seems to be the problem, check if the project manager is following the guidelines or ignoring them. While compliance can be a problem for people, Deming believes that more than 90% of problems in any situation can be traced back at flaws in the system and not the people.
Performance to plan should not be a major factor in assessing the performance of project managers who follow a consistent methodology. Instead, it should be weighed how the (1) continuous contributions to improving the methodology and (2) the compliance and success in execution. Poor performance can be caused by not using the methodology. However, it is better to measure cause than the result. This is my key distinction between Deming’s view of how performance should be evaluated and the Management by Objectives philosophy. Consider the incentives in the MBO and Deming management philosophies.
MBO can be used to entice project managers to add more schedules and cost padding so that they are always the hero if they meet their budget and arrive on time. They can negotiate many benefits and other quality elements for the final product and then add some more because they have spent so much time and money. This is why many projects don’t meet all the customer needs. This is why project sponsors cut budgets and schedules. They know what is happening. Because they know that it will be cut, project managers add more fluff to the mix. And so the vicious cycle continues. Where is the incentive to continuously improve? It is clear that the focus is misdirected.
Deming’s philosophy of project management can be applied to avoid much of the struggle that has been described above. It is now possible to create and improve a consistent system that project managers can use to plan and execute their projects. The addition of