MSP Quality Management Made Simple
I have recently received emails from readers saying that they don’t understand how MSP Quality management works together with PRINCE 2 quality management. The overwhelming feeling seems to be that quality in PRINCE 2 and MSP are incompatible.
To sort this issue out one needs to go back to basics
Quality in PRINCE 2 is clearly defined by the following text-book definition:-
“Quality is the totality of features and inherent or assigned characteristics of a product, person, process, service and /or system that bear on its ability to show that it meets expectations or stated needs, requirements or specifications”
Essentially all this statement is describing is “Quality Assurance” which can more simply defined as:-
“Checking that we are doing is what we are supposed to be doing”
Quality Assurance in no way assesses that what we are doing is of value or is worthwhile.
Quality in a MSP programme is quite different, and is all about “Programme Assurance” which in contrast is defined as:-
“Not checking that we are supposed to be doing but that what we are doing is of value /worthwhile”
In MSP all quality assurance is taken care of at the project level and is quite separate to the assurance activities at the programme level. So the emailers are right in terms of compatibility. However the story does not stop here
In MSP this situation is made more complicated by the fact that an MSP Programme Office (PO) cannot be responsible for the Assurance role at the same time as supporting it. A PO in MSP terms which did take up this dual role would be the everyday equivalent of a pupil marking their own “A” level exam papers, and therefore is not allowed within the MSP framework.
The practical issue I have with all this (for those of you who fancy taking the MSP Advanced Practitioner exams) is that Assurance and Quality Assurance is something which needs to be managed and supported together, via the PO if they are to work in the real world. To get around the “marking of their own exam papers issue” I have always made the quality assessment of the PO’s value and function through the use of an independent quality consultant. This independent consultant reports directly to the Programme Board and accountable to the SRO because of the importance of the PO’s role in making large-scale programmes successful.
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