defect repair

A competent Project Manager can portray every Defect as a Change Request.

An intelligent Client can introduce every Change Request as a Defect.

I started managing projects long time ago. We used to have lot of fun in the earlier years. During that period, we used joke about defects and changes.

Don’t get me wrong. Project management is a serious affair. But a happy team goes an extra mile to complete the project tasks. It is always good to deal with serious things in humorous manner. This was just one of the jokes that kept us spirited and motivated. We were pretty serious about our project tasks. Our first priority was to do what it takes to meet the project objectives and to keep the customer happy.

Let us talk about today. In my observation some Project Managers have taken the above joke literally. Some Project Managers try to go one up on Customers. In short run it might reduce their work. It might even seem to be a prudent thing to do. But in long run it causes lot of heart-ache. It spoils the relationship and creates distrust. I believe a healthy discussion with an attitude of give & take can always resolve tough situations.

In my opinion PMBOK® Guide also has not helped the matters. PMBOK® Guide has categorized “Defect Repair” as a type of “Change Request”. The Guide does not explain anything more than that. So it is left to the reader to interpret what it means.

Should a PM present Defects as Change Requests to the customer? Let us answer this question by answering series of questions.

What is a Defect?

A defect is any non-conformance, in the work-product(s), to the stated needs and specifications. A defect can be a fault or inconsistency or imperfection that affects the function(s) of a deliverable(s) or a component(s) or the whole system.

You can also refer to PMBOK® Guide or look at Max Wideman’s Glossary for some other definitions of Defect.

What is Defect Repair?

A wilful act to modify a deliverable or a component or the whole system to remove Defects and make such a deliverable or a component or the whole system conformant to the stated needs and specifications.

What is a Change Request (CR)

I have taken the following definition from my post on Change Management. You can refer to the post for some other definitions related to Change and Change Management.

A Change Request is a formal documented proposal submitted to Change Control Board (CCB) for taking decision on a Change. A CR document contains complete description of the Change along with its Impact Analysis.

Is Defect a Change Request?

No. Defect, in itself, is certainly not a change. Since a Defect is a non-conformance to the stated needs or specifications.

Is Defect Repair a Change Request?

Yes, a Defect Repair could be a CR. But it is not always true. A Defect Repair can be considered as a Change Request only under special circumstances.

You cannot give a faulty system or a defective deliverable or component to the Customer. So, all Defects should be repaired before delivery.

However, Defect Repair may entail some other Changes. The Project Team may require extra Time or Cost or Resources to do the Defect Repair. These may require some Changes to the Project Baselines. Like with any other Change, the Project Team has to analyze the Defect Repair completely. They should document the impact of Defect Repair

The Project Team should analyze the impact of Defect Repair on the other Project parameters. The Project Team should document what and how much would be impacted. Project team should produce a formal CR, if the impact analysis suggests Changes to Project Baselines.

PMBOK® Guide is not a definitive Guide. It presents the possibilities. I have described one such possibility. You should read PMBOK® Guide by correlating the concepts with real life examples.

You may want to read my other articles on Project Change Management.

Good luck to all PMP aspirants.

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  1. In my business, it is fairly simple. Defect Repair is a CR because, in first place client nevers accepts a defective equipment. Hence, it means that defect appeared after he accepted it. May be he missed pointing it out but then that not our fault. So I do the defect repair and he gives me an extension of time to do that. If that happens after defect liability period (warranty period in most cases), I do it for free, else customer pays for it too!

  2. If the Defect repair does not affect the baseline, no need to create the CR. Hope I understood correctly.
    If so, then how will the repaired/corrected product/deliverable will be reevaluated in control quality on what document basis? how the work (defect repair) will be tracked.

    1. Bhala,

      “If the Defect repair….” Yes, you understood it correctly.

      “… in control quality on what document basis…” Quality Control activities are planned upfront i.e. a schedule is made, resources are allocated etc. So if a defect can be repaired within the original plan, its repair is not considered a change. But if the repair requires extra time/cost/resources then a CR is required for extra time/cost/resources.

      Hope it helps.

      1. Praveen,
        Thanks for your reply.
        After repaired, the deliverable should be revalidated in control quality. So here only the Change log which contain corrective action plan is used to inform the team member to correct the defect and the same is used to revalidate the deliverable in control Quality process. The same will be used to record lessons learned also. Am I right?

        1. Bhala, You are right. In addition to corrective action plan, there could be documents from dev team to validate the defect repair.

  3. Praveen, this transcends “common sense”. A defect (which can either be latent or patent) results because of some non-conformance or variation from the technical specifications.

    Therefore it is not and should not be handled as a change request at all, but either as a punchlist item or as a warranty/guaranty issue.

    Check out FIDIC or AIA contract clauses and you can see that PMI is out to lunch on this topic.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

    1. Dr PDG, Please read the article again. Defect should never be considered as CR. But “Defect Repair” can become a CR.

      BR, Praveen.

      1. Dr Paul calls it right, in my opinion. A defect is a defect, a defect repair is a defect repair, they represent corrective action and should not result in a change to the baselines – or if they do, it may be unilateral and result in a breach of contract with liquidated damages or litigation resulting.

        A change request to take preventive action to prevent future defects, e.g. by changing workers for workers with better skills or uplifting the specification on materiel or components (at extra cost, possibly extending the schedule), would be valid.

        1. Hi James, Thanks for your comment.

          I agree defect is a defect. The article is about “defect repair”.

          Kindly read the article again. An excerpt “…Defect Repair may entail some other Changes. The Project Team may require extra Time or Cost or Resources to do the Defect Repair…”

          Dr. Paul’s comment is about defect and not “defect repair”.

          BR, Praveen.

  4. If the product or service does not meet agreed acceptability criteria owing to defect, the defer repair is considered as corrective action and should not lead to change request. If all the agreed acceptability criteria and product requirements are met, but still there remains some defect which needs to be rectified, then it should lead to change request. Therefore defining requirements and acceptability criteria in detail is very important. E.g. consider defect arising out of faulty design when design is not under your scope of work.

    1. Hi Nitesh, Thanks for your comment. Defect repair may require extra time, cost, or resources. In such a case it would result in a CR.

      BR, Praveen.

  5. Eric, somewhere in a PM’s bottom drawer will be a little read document(s) called a contract(s).

    Your contracts should provide guidance as to who pays.

    It would be unusual to find that the Customer pays for defect repairs. However under a T&M arrangement where the Provider has only an obligation to provide resource it might be become a subject of discussion with of course possible consequent implications re Customer relationship.

    Under Fixed Price where the Provider usually has an obligation through the contract to deliver something to stated completion criteria the cost of repair should be borne by the Provider and “paid for” by a reduction in bottom line profitability.

    It may be the case that the Provider is using Sub-contractors. If the defect is a consequence of Sub-contractor negligence then the defect repair will be their responsibility… always assuming that this has been documented in your Sub-contractor contract.

    In my experience some Customers sometimes claim a defect when it was never a part of the original specification or completion criteria. We now have a change that, subject to contract terms and conditions, should be paid for by the Customer.

    Finally the nature and quantity of defects are a measure of the overall quality of the work (so far) undertaken. Are the defects that start appearing indicative of PM organisation or process weaknesses?

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