To bring some structure and consistency to projects (and business processes in general), audits or QA checks/gates are often performed to assess current practices and to enforce consistency. But in one of the great ironies, it is often necessary to not perform audits to measure compliance and instead use audits to understand current issues and build credibility. Simply leaping into measuring everything e.g. do we have at least 76% compliance, we need to first address the major problems.
To build trust and credibility with operational and project staff, we first need to provide support.
Using checklists as a basis for providing a tool to project staff is often a good start for improving. Not for people to actually tick off – though they can certainly do that if they want. We need to use checklists as a window into our (increasingly) complex business processes and methodologies.
Most methods are neither read nor understood. If you have a 400 page methodology, you can be pretty sure no one but the author and QA has read it – let alone understands it. Project staff want to get started right away and not get bogged down in what they see as theory. They’ll do what they need to get the job done.
By using a one page checklist we can start to gain some traction by
- Having a simple device (checklist) that shows what needs to be done at an absolute minimum – and isn’t that what many PMs want 😉
- Using the checklist to ensure staff are focused on what needs to be done
So it actually works well both ways.
One thing though – don’t assess percentages too early (say within the first year) as you will experience a LOT of pushback and resistance – and the checklists WON’T get used and you’ll be back where you started.
Once everyone is using the checklists and you have some consistency in place (dare I say it, institutionalized) you can start to look at measures.
But in the mean time, just use a Red (Bad)/Amber(issues but manageable)/Green(OK) traffic light indicator.
If there are lots of good things happening, you might consider a gold/star. PMs always get blamed when things go bad, thanked when things go OK, but rarely thanked when things are well ahead.
So just write a few checklists to drive some change and see how it works. You might be surprised.