Building a Quality Management Dashboard
In my last post I talked about how to build a perfect project dashboard. This week I want to get into building a more tactical dashboard aimed at helping oversee the quality of your project. This post will go into three key areas that any quality management dashboard needs to include in order to stay on top of any possible quality issues with your project.
Testing Being able to monitor your testing is vital to ensuring that your deliverables are going to be delivered within your budget and schedule constraints. Get your testers involved early on (right after the design is complete) in order to get going on test plans and test cases. Once the code has been built and passes developer unit tests it’s ready for your testing team to go in and ensure that it’s meeting the specs. But how do you as a project manager understand where your testers are at? Having a dashboard that pulls from whatever repository your testers use (DevOps is my preferred platform for test cases) allows the project manager to monitor progress and get hard numbers to validate against the plan. As with all dashboards, the simpler the better. Visual indicators such as charts and heat maps are a great way to quickly call out any trouble signs. Test case execution progress is key here – seeing where your testers are at, their velocity and most importantly – what is remaining is key to being able to stay in front of issues.
Bugs are going to happen. If you as a project manager are expecting perfect code on the first try then you haven’t managed a project yet. It’s how your team responds to them is what matters. When bugs are reported, either by your internal testers or your clients, it’s imperative that they are actioned in accordance with the perceived priority of whoever is reporting. Having a section of your quality management dashboard dedicated to visualizing the state of the bugs in your project is crucial in allowing you to a) quickly understand where the problem areas are and b) being able to re-focus your team as needed in order to keep your project moving forward. As with testing, having visuals on your dashboard to quickly disseminate the information to the reader is vital. Grouping bugs by functional area and being able to slice by criticality is a very quick and easy way for the reader to understand the state of where your bug fixing is.
This is probably the least talked about component of a quality management dashboard and often the most overlooked. Measuring turnaround time on defect remediation is a great way to point out flaws in your process that, with some remediation of their own, may help you buy back some schedule or even budget with your project. Finding out what bugs are taking the longest and why will help you as an organization determine what processes are working and what needs some fixing. Tracking a bug from the time it was reported to the time it was fixed and re-deployed along with all the steps along the way gives a project manager a wealth of information from which he or she can use as coaching moments for the team or lessons learned for themselves, and even in some circumstances better client education on the testing and bug submission process.
Quality management is often fourth in line when it comes to managing priorities with a project (right behind budget, schedule and scope). That doesn’t mean that it’s fourth in value – a high quality delivery will often sooth the pain of a late or more expensive deliverable. For project managers, being able to quickly and easily monitor the quality of your deliverables allows you to respond with just as much agility to potential quality issues with your project.