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Conduct Quality Reviews

Because senior management will need an overview of the project's progress, periodic high-level business program reviews and quality reviews must be held to align with changes in the business environment, to reprioritize resources, and to mitigate other risks. Don't let teams get bogged down preparing for these presentations. Encourage them to use available information already contained in project management tools, rather than prepare cosmetic PowerPoint pitches for senior management. Well-designed templates for these reviews can save team members much time.

Service-level agreements and incentive and penalty clauses often act as the guideposts in quality reviews. Incentives and penalties should motivate both the outsourcing company and the vendor. Both parties should collaborate in setting goals and working to reach them. Consistently communicating these goals to every level of both organizations is essential.

Unstructured, free-form status reports are the enemy of project quality. Use a standard report that clearly spells out how the project is going with respect to different milestones. And make sure that more than one person is able to generate the reports—one client told me that they were unable to receive their weekly status reports because the vendor's employee responsible for generating the data went on vacation for two weeks and no one else at the company knew where the information was.

You need early warning of any time slippage or cost overrun, in order to take timely corrective action. For routine weekly status reports, make sure that any incomplete task or issue that needs management intervention is expressed in terms of target date, cost, and status.

Whenever a task is reported as completed, an onshore team member should check that the corresponding deliverables are accurate, accessible, and documented correctly. Depending on what skills you need to check (such as programming code, offshore project management, or testing routines), make sure to actually review the deliverables.

Trust and communication are needed to align companies with vendors and to provide meaningful incentives for the vendor to invest in value initiatives. The two organizations must work together to build effective bridges to facilitate resolution of issues.

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