Errors that are overlooked, or that are recognized but not resolved add up over the course of a project. As a result, deadlines, expenses and quality cannot be maintained. How can vulnerabilities be detected with the help of Quality Gates before they later lead to errors or far-reaching disruption on the project?
An interview with Hans-Jörg Niemeck, Member of the Management board of INROS LACKNER
Mr Niemeck, Quality Gates structure and verify complex work and performance processes. How does this work?
On the one hand, checklists of mandatory criteria and control point criteria are defined at the start of a project that specify, which (partial) performances must be delivered at the start, during, and at the end of the project. On the other hand, the fulfilment of these criteria is constantly reviewed in previously scheduled quality gate sessions. These sessions are comparable to “TÜV Quality Meetings”: Those involved with the project travel to the “lot” with or without documentation. In the worst case scenario, the project will be shut down and only cleared again when at least all mandatory criteria have been met, following the motto: “Green means go and red means stop.”
You are promoting the introduction of Quality Gates at Inros Lackner AG. What needs to be taken into consideration?
First, it was important to convince my colleagues on the Board that this was meaningful.Because it is only when such a step is supported jointly from “the top” that it gets the necessary attention. Prejudices still remain, and we need to respond to this in order to generate greater acceptance among employees. This concerns scepticism towards new things, for example. In this case, scepticism is unnecessary because Quality Gates will not replace the quality management system, bit simply compliment it. They are inspection dates for partners, clients and employees for performances that need to be rendered anyway. Everyone involved can actually only gain profit from it, that only needs to be conveyed. Furthermore, the checklists have to be adapted to our project structures and to the various departments. The basic catalogue of obligations and control points will not differ very much as compared to DB. There are a lot of parallels we can draw. Thus, at the start of a project, there is always the same question about the qualified performance requirements. Were the starting conditions met? Are all of the inventory records and approval documentation there? These ostensibly simple and clear steps are crucial for the smooth running and final success of the project.
What distinguishes the Quality Gate as a new touchstone for quality assurance?
As additional inspection dates, Quality Gates promote communication between the project participants in the design phase. Furthermore, management levels are also involved as part of the Quality Gates meetings, which means that decisions that cannot be made at the working level will be escalated to the next highest authority for finding a solution. This inevitably leads to more transparency and honesty and, therefore, also to project work that is based more on partnership.