in Leadership, Leading Projects, Quality Improvement

The Pursuit of Getting It “First Time Right” (FTR)

Building quality involves cost. You spend efforts and energy on preventing the errors (prevention cost) and then checking your work (appraisal cost). These are positive costs, or rather investments that ensure that you get it right the first time.

The cost of rework when you or customer identifies a LOT of defects(internal/external failure costs) is huge and highly damaging too. It can have a direct impact on your business bottom lines.

So how do you maximize your possibility of getting it first time right when you deal with projects? Here are three most important things I could think of:

  • Clarity: In projects (or in any initiative), when you shoot in the dark, the bullet comes back to kill you. Most projects fail because of lack of clarity. Project team needs to be clear of the purpose, business need, specific requirements of the customer and other implicit expectations. Clarity also demands a clear visibility in process, setting up right rituals, monitoring practices and responsibilities of the project team. Clarity means openness in communication.
  • Discipline: Execution demands discipline to do right things consistently. It demands emotional labor. The plans you established needs to be followed. When you decide to review early and often, you should. Discipline, in simplest terms, is your ability to fill the gap between what you know and what you actually do. 
  • Constant Improvement: You planned, you did and then you also reviewed. Based on your experiences, you should be able to improvise your processes. Change the tracks for better efficiency. Inculcate better habits. Fine tuning and alignment that happens in this phase not only helps you in this project, but also in subsequent ones.

I do not undermine the need to make mistakes and learn from them. When we research or try to innovate, we essentially do that with the objective of learning. But what about applying our lessons well? We can always get that right the first time, only if we decide to!

P.S: On a second thought, you can only innovate when you don’t have to worry about doing the routine stuff right. That is where processes and FTR approach can really help.

  1. Very well described points Tanmay. Its important to know, understand and clearly decipher the needs and expectations of the client, and then converting that into meaning requirement, makes everyone job easier. Next most important steps are “Planning” and “Execution”. All the above done with passion and commitment, its job done successfully.

    • @Anand – Thanks for the comment. When a volume of your business depends on doing stuff, one cannot afford to make same mistakes again. Unless you are in research and innovation where experimentation/exploration is the name of the game. For what we know, we need to implement that well. That, to me, is the essence of project management. Do, what you know 🙂


  2. Determination is the name of the game. For project success the points rightly identified above are part of Verification process in V&V model.
    Clarity in project scope and requirement, correct team building, process implementation, on time documentation and status tracking are some of those methodologies which would surely ensure ‘getting it right the first time’. Planned and well rooted Quality Assurance processes at all stages of SDLC always brings out possible errors or mistakes at very early stages and hence help an organization save cost and efforts and hence delivering a quality wrapped product.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this Tanmay and I am glad to get back onto your posts after some time now.

    Enjoyed this.

    Jay Chhaya

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