As project managers, we strive to implement a quality solution every time.  In fact, we usually build reviews and quality control checks into our project schedules that we manage and share using tools like Seavus’ Project Viewer.  However, just building these practices into the project schedule doesn’t make them happen and certainly doesn’t guarantee that these quality control steps are performed effectively.

My question is this – is it the project manager’s job to ensure proper quality management on the project?  Is it the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that the proper quality control (QC) and quality assurance procedures and processes are built into the design, development, and – most importantly – testing phases during the course of the engagement?

man working on laptop quality management

Overall, my personal answer is going to be ‘yes.’  Since the project manager has ultimate overall responsibility for the project, then seeing to it that the proper amount of quality oversight be performed on the project and its deliverables would logically be the project manager’s responsibility.  It certainly isn’t the project manager’s job to perform any of those QC-type functions other than possibly peer reviews performed on document deliverables.  In my opinion, it is, however, the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that the proper individuals are lined up and ready to perform necessary QC functions and that they are aware that this is required of them and they are being made available to the project team at key points throughout the engagement.  It is the project manager’s responsibility to formally schedule these critical resources in the project schedule and ensure that they are properly assigned to the tasks they are responsible for.

One organization I worked for hired a 3rd party vendor to do all system testing for major rollouts and large change orders as a precursor to user acceptance testing (UAT).  This provided my organization with a professional signoff and some level of accountability on the large multi-million dollar government contracts we were running at the time.  We of course paid dearly for it, I’m sure, but it was a comfort factor for us and our customer (the US Department of Education) as we handed the system over to them for UAT.  Think of kind of like having a CPA do your taxes and taking on some responsibility for signing off that they have been completed accurately and properly.

computer laptop desk

A recent organization I was involved with didn’t even have an internal QC structure, however.  Responsibility for testing and quality assurance feel completely to the project team which, I believe, contributed to many of the bugs and rollout issues that were experienced along the way.  I feel strongly that an organization should have a dedicated internal (or hired external) testing group to assist the development staff and the project team with preparation of the solution for productive and meaningful (and relatively bug-free) user acceptance testing.  There’s nothing worse than turning over a system for UAT only to have the customer find so many issues that testing has to come to a screeching halt.  Customer satisfaction drops like a rock at that point.