You can never have too good of quality – at least that is what I hear frequently. Over the years however, I am starting to not believe it. Sure, when I go to buy a car I want something of high quality because I am spending a lot of money. On the contrary though, when I go to purchase dental floss, I don’t know if I actually care that much about the quality. Really it comes down to the purpose of the item that determines the level of quality that you need to achieve.
Quality as a definition is also problematic because quality is completely based in perspective. If you don’t believe me, look at car brands. I drive a Toyota truck and absolutely love it, I think they make extremely high quality vehicles. I am sure however, that someone reading this blog probably loves Chevy or Ford and would debate with me over which is the highest quality. So when we are working on a project, we need to understand what our product’s intent is, and what the expectations are of our customers. To me, the easiest way to figure that out is simply to ask them. Opening up the communication with your customer about what they are looking for and why they want what we have to offer allows us to cater our strategy to a matching outcome.
The trouble with not knowing is we tend to draw the line in the wrong place. A glaring example to me is my work behavior when I started with my company. I was hired on as a project manager straight out of college and thrown into managing projects on my own – trial by fire – if you will. I was unfamiliar with the customers and unclear of anyone’s expectations. Really, it was just the “don’t screw up” mentality. I wanted to do everything right the first time and I wanted to prove to the other PM’s that I could handle what they did, so I spent hours on my drawings and data packs and submittal documentation to make sure everything was absolutely perfect. I ensured every drawing was the best damn drawing I could make…complete…waste…of….time. Looking back, the customer wanted an image or rough outline that gave the intent of the project, not a book about every detail, no one cared.
The important take away is to know what kind of quality you are expected to provide. Remember:
“Good enough doesn’t mean you can just do 80% […]”
What is does mean though, is don’t shoot for 100% when your customers don’t need it. Stop wasting your time and the company’s money shooting for that perfect deliverable rather than moving forward onto the next task. Project management is about managing your projects and the deliverables that come out of it, take responsibility for the work you produce and talk to your customers so you know their expectations. You may find you have been doing more for a few, and falling short overall.
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