QA Review

A mid-sized high-tech hardware manufacturer was repeatedly missing program deadlines and going over budget. An initial review of two programs found that key parts of the program life cycle (PLC) had not been followed.

Artizen then proposed the implementation of a complete Program Management Review. That meant conducting close examinations of programs at key milestones. Even more, it meant going back to the early stages of programs and investigating how their business requirements and functional specifications were created.

After completing several dozen program reviews, we presented some important conclusions:

  • Review results varied widely across different groups. Some were well managed and scored high on our dashboards (mostly greens and a few yellows). Other groups were consistently problematic (red) in key areas. This allowed us to focus our efforts on a smaller number of programs and teams.
  • Key deliverables such as program charters, business requirements and technical designs were not being produced consistently.
  • Weekly status reporting was not happening reliably and in many cases status reports did not accurately reflect the state of the program.
  • Formal program teams were not being established and responsibilities were not documented and communicated. Team members did not understand the activities and deliverables for which they were accountable. No one was asked to sign off on deliverables. As a result, no one from the user community felt responsible for the requirements or for approving proposed solutions.

We observed a common pattern. Program managers knew what they were supposed to do from a theory standpoint. But, even though they could pass a PMI test, they were failing to do simple fundamentals.

Through our coaching (part of the QA Review process), the presence of our QA dashboards and the resulting visibility they supplied to everyone, program results improved dramatically over a 12-month period. Program managers knew they were now under the spotlight of a QA Review—and they knew what was expected of them in those reviews. After a year, the QA Review program was successfully transitioned from Artizen consultants to an in-house review team.