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Applying Deming’s 14 Points for Effective Project Management

Managing people determines the likelihood of project management success. Planning, scheduling and budgeting are not enough to manage a project team. When an employee is determined and understands their role within an organization, management is the definitive tool that can push them to the finish line.

A Key to Project Management Success

A way to understand the importance of management is through Deming’s fourteen points of total quality management (TQM). By developing a method to help the Japanese rebuild their manufacturing economy after World War II, Edward Deming contributed knowledge to process improvement for products and services that is highly adaptable in today’s manufacturing industries.

According to his teachings, an employee’s empowerment in decision-making contributes to the overall quality of the managing process. Rather than overshadowing a project manager’s duty, Deming identifies the inclusion of team members as the key to effective project management.

14 Ways to Help A Project Management Team Succeed

Following this idea, Deming came up with specific points that advise managerial teams on how to take care of a project’s scope while keeping team members determined and confident of their abilities to lead by example. The advice synthesized by Deming proves that team development and operational success are dependent on each other throughout the life cycle of a project.

Project managers can guarantee success by considering the following total quality management principles:

1.     Create a Consistent Plan for Process Improvement

During the forming phase, project management teams must understand the overall goals, objectives and mission of the company. On the corporate level, stakeholders and sponsors must assist the team by providing a consistent message of purpose for the improvement of products and services. Without the corporate vision, a team might never identify the importance their role plays in the company.

2.   Embrace the New Philosophy

Project managers need to be ready to help their teams face leadership or cultural changes before jumping into projects. Although consistency is an optimal state for teams, change can catch them off guard and affect their performance.

3.   Cease Dependence on Mass Inspection

When a defect is found in a team’s process or in the making of a product, Deming advises to pause the whole process and correct the error. This method guaranteed improvement in Japan when he introduced it and was later built into Lean Six Sigma manufacturing techniques. According to Deming, no one should take the next step before improving the quality of a process or product and eliminating defects.

4.   Minimize Cost and Work with One Supplier

Minimizing costs by working with a single supplier can guarantee a lower price for businesses and reduce the overall number of materials, and engineering and manufacturing costs. Centralizing processes like this can also lower burnouts for the project management team and avoid an excess of information.

5.   Improve Every Process Permanently

Improving the quality of a service or product should always be a priority for project management teams. Deming was the first to introduce this idea, coined as continuous improvement, in which a team can boost competitive edge by dynamically reviewing and adapting to any change that adds value to a product or service. This review can include streamlining processes that reduce risks and wastes.

6.   Prioritize Continuous Training

Instituting training sessions are a top priority for any company, Deming points out. Surprisingly, when budgets are reduced in the U.S., training is often the first feature to be cut. And evidence shows that once training is taken away, workers are at risk of unemployment due to the lack of appropriate skills for the job.

7.   Adopt and Institute Leadership

Deming observed that management shouldn’t be perceived as a dictatorship. According to the scholar, management is, in its core, a highly useful technique in making sure that employees reach optimum success.

8.     Drive Out Fear

Project managers can drive out fear by setting a culture in which project teams are not afraid to communicate or share their thoughts. Destroying a barrier through communication can prevent the censoring of ideas and compromise problem-solving. This is when the project manager must be responsible for setting a culture of openness, honesty and trust within the team.

9.   Break Down Barriers Between Teams

Amongst all the practices that modern management promotes, teamwork is a top priority. When Deming studied Japan’s manufacturing system, he pointed to its stand-alone departments, in which little communication occurred. As a result, Deming recognized that enhancing communication, exchanging ideas and remaining competitive are keys to an integrated workforce team.

10. Eliminate Slogans and Exhortations for the Workforce

Companies and managers can’t set goals for a team without providing the necessary tools. This move can hurt productivity and demotivate the workforce. Instead, a team is ready to work only when the leadership uses accurate calculations based on market research and data and nothing else.

11. Eliminate Numerical Goals and Quotas

This principle is like point ten. Quotas and incentive payments should not be the only measures of someone’s work, especially when they have no reason for existing. Leaders should consider reading quality and effectiveness reports before urging their team to “improve quality by 4% this year.”

12. Remove Barriers that Strip People From their Pride to Work

Following the previous point can help teams gain a stable sense of workmanship. Quotas stop where continuous improvement begins. When work standards are replaced with leadership, productivity and quality increases.

13. Institute a Program of Education and Self-improvement

Delayed gratification benefits companies more than the hunt for a quick turnaround. Deming realized the importance of employee education, even though most results don’t manifest themselves immediately. According to Deming, continuous training not only creates a culture of volunteering and solving problems, but also delivers far-reaching long-term effects.

14. Make Everyone Work to Accomplish Transformation

At the end of a long project’s life cycle, leaders and employees should realize that transformation is everyone’s job. Deming points out that total quality improvement can’t take place in separate departments or one single project. Instead, the growth must be embraced by the entire organization or company, including top management.

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