Project deliverables and quality metrics including checklists illustrated on a blog post

This blog post with illustrate how to judge the quality of different deliverables that are produced in a project. Creating a blog post will be used as an example but every project like building a house, setting up an online store or organizing a fair will have similar challenges and can use similar techniques.

Package on the top of table

Creating a blog post as a project

Creating a blog post for our incentergy blog contains 3 phases:

  1. Having an idea (Idea)
  2. Writing a text (Content)
  3. Illustrating the content with fitting images (Images)

Idea-Content-Illustration

These phases can be done by the same person or can be split to multiple persons.

Definition of deliverables

Most of the modern project methodologies define the concept of a deliverable. A deliverable is an output of a project that is used by the following tasks or is the general goal of the project.

A deliverable must be assigned to one responsible which must be a natural person. Never assign responsibilities for deliverables to a whole company.

Typically deliverables depend on each other. So if you have a good idea it is easy to write good content. If you have good content it is easy to make nice illustrations.

Further when the quality of certain deliverables is bad then the quality of depending deliverables will be worse. So it is very important to always make sure that deliverables early in the project have a good quality.

This review is often called: “Quality Gate”.

Quality Gates

A quality gate is a point in time in a project (most of the time together with a milestone) where defined quality metrics are applied and if not reached the project can’t continue with the next phase.

I never saw in my whole career that a project stopped because a quality gate indicated too bad quality. The problem is that there are some competing interests. The project sponsor wants the project to progress so the project manager is very likely to fake data because if it turns out that the quality is bad they will be responsible.

A very simple and effective way to check the quality of deliverables are checklists.

Checklists

Checklist are a simple yet effective tool to make sure that deliverables are correct. It makes a lot of sense to provide the responsibles for the deliverable with the checklist before they start to work on their task.

If there is no checklist yet, the person should create one.

A typical checklist for out three deliverables could be the following:

Deliverables Checklist
Idea
  1. Check google if there is already a lot of content for this idea
  2. Check google trends and adwords if there is demand for this kind of content
  3. Twitter idea and get feedback from your friends before writing a post
  4. Search research papers for this idea and related work
Text
  1. Does the text start with a short summary that is postable in social networks and usable for RSS feeds?
  2. Are there any typographic mistakes?
  3. Are there annoying repetitions in the text?
  4. Are there at least three paragraphs?
  5. Is there some bold text to make the post scannable?
Illustration
  1. Do the images fit to corresponding paragraph?
  2. Do you own the copyright on all images? If not is it covered by fair use or did you buy a license?
  3. Is the resolution of the images high enough for retina displays or even better can you directly use vector graphics?
  4. Does every image have a good alternative description?

Deliverables should never comply to all items on a checklist e.g. 80% is enough. The pareto-principle is also applicable to deliverables and making sure that the deliverables are 100% will make about 10 times the effort then just making them 80% compliant.

Quality metrics

In general you should have quality metrics which are part of the S.M.A.R.T goals of the project. A quality metric gives you a quantitative statement how good you currently are.

Because it is quantitative you can use it for predicting when you will reach a certain quality.

Typical quality metrics for blog posts deliverables would be e.g.:

  1. Find cheap keywords for adwords to bid on
  2. Find cheap images to buy that fit the post
  3. Find high resolution images

As you can see for some of these metrics it will be very difficult to progress if you already reached a certain level.

Most of the time your ability to reach certain quality level depends on your methodologies that you are using for producing your deliverables. e.g. if you are using an old webcam to create images for your blog you will never be able to deliver high resolution images.

It might be necessary to buy a new camera

Summary

If you want to reduce risk in you project and assure quality you must have quality metrics. The most reliable way to produce reliable quality is to use a well defined process that is governed by multiple quality gates in the project. Every part of a deliverable needs testing on it’s own and in the end the whole deliverables hast to be tested.

If you want to use such sophisticated methods as well. Please contact us.

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