To know what done means for the project, we must first understand what quality means for your project. This is another post from the project management series. The post is based on a remarkable book written by Johanna Rothman, Manage It!
So far, we determined project drivers, constraints, floats, and we iterated over the charter. The final step in the project’s start is to assess project quality.
Knowing project quality, we could be sure that the project is successfully done when we fulfill all project quality aspects.
But what is the definition of quality?
Quality is value to someone that matters [Weinberg and Bach].
The project should care about two stakeholders: sponsors and customers. The sponsor is paying the project, and the customer is using the product and is paying to sponsor. Sponsor quality should be driven by customer quality, but those two qualities could be different. Here is why.
If we take a look at Moore’s Chasm in the above picture, we could see that over time, customers of the product are different. The x-axis is time, and the y-axis is the size of the customer base. Every startup product would like to jump over Chasm.
Chasm [noun] – a deep fissure in the earth, rock, or another surface.
Each customer group has a different view of product quality.
The product would be first used by early adopters. They need a product that solves their problem. It is enough to have a small feature set that solves that one problem, but it must solve it well.
After the early adopters, you have visionaries. Each visionary has a different set of feature lists. They need those features as fast as possible, and it is ok that the features are rugged. You can deploy with known defects.
If the product reaches the next step, it means that you jumped over a chasm. Now you have a pragmatist customer base. They do care about defects, and now is an excellent time to pay your defects debt.
Conservatives use the product because they would experience loss otherwise.
Skeptics use the product because they have to (their company made them do that). They just want that product does what is promised. So in this phase, you should “polish” existing features.
From Moore’s Chasm diagram, you can see that the project has different qualities in the various project phases. You, as the project manager, must be ready to organize the project in those phases based on that fact.