Project Quality Management is one of the most important processes in the Life Cycle to determine the project is on track. Tests performed during the quality process must map directly to a requirement. If not, the process needs to be re-examined. Quality processes include all the activities of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken. It implements the quality management system through the policy, procedures, and processes of quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control, with continuous process improvement activities conducted throughout, as appropriate. Quality Management is often managed another manager and care has to be taken to make sure your project has the quality engineering resources required to do the job. That is one reason I am strict about making good relationships with everyone in the project team. This goes double when your resources are in a matrix organization and not reporting to you.
Quality Planning: identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them.
Perform Quality Assurance: applying the planned, systematic quality activities to ensure that the project employs all processes needed to meet requirements.
Perform Quality Control: monitoring specific project results to determine whether they comply with relevant quality standards and identifying ways to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory performance.
These processes interact with each other and with the processes in the other Knowledge Areas as well. Each process can involve effort from one or more people or groups of people based on the needs of the project. Each process occurs at least once in every project and occurs in one or more project phases, if the project is divided into phases. Although the processes are presented here as discrete elements with well-defined interfaces, in practice they may overlap and interact in ways not detailed here.
The basic approach to quality management described in this section is intended to be compatible with that of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This generalized approach should also be compatible with proprietary approaches to quality management such as those recommended by Deming, Juran, Crosby and others, and non-proprietary approaches such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, Design Reviews, Voice of the Customer, Cost of Quality (COQ), and Continuous Improvement.
Project Quality Management must address the management of the project and the product of the project. While Project Quality Management applies to all projects, regardless of the nature of their product, product quality measures and techniques are specific to the particular type of product produced by the project.
For example, quality management of software products entails different approaches and measures than nuclear power plants, while Project Quality Management approaches apply to both. In either case, failure to meet quality requirements in either dimension can have serious negative consequences for any or all of the project stakeholders. For example:
• Meeting customer requirements by overworking the project team may produce negative consequences in the form of increased employee attrition, unfounded errors, or rework
• Meeting project schedule objectives by rushing planned quality inspections may produce negative consequences when errors go undetected.
Quality is “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements”. Stated and implied needs are the inputs to developing project requirements. A critical element of quality management in the project context is to turn stakeholder needs, wants, and expectations into requirements through Stakeholder Analysis, performed during Project Scope Management.
Quality and grade are not the same. Grade is a category assigned to products or services having the same functional use but different technical characteristics. Low quality is always a problem; low grade may not be. For example, a software product can be of high quality (no obvious defects, readable manual) and low grade (a limited number of features), or of low quality (many defects, poorly organized user documentation) and high grade (numerous features). The project manager and the project management team are responsible for determining and delivering the required levels of both quality and grade.
Precision and accuracy are not equivalent. Precision is consistency that the value of repeated measurements are clustered and have little scatter. Accuracy is correctness that the measured value is very close to the true value. Precise measurements are not necessarily accurate. A very accurate measurement is not necessarily precise. The project management team must determine how much accuracy/precision or both are required.
Customer satisfaction: Understanding, evaluating, defining, and managing expectations so that customer requirements are met. This requires a combination of conformance to requirements (the project must produce what it said it would produce) and fitness for use (the product or service must satisfy real needs).
• Prevention over inspection: The cost of preventing mistakes is generally a lot less than the cost of correcting them, as revealed by inspection. It is said that the cost of a bug rises exponentially as the project reaches completion. Think of how much more a problem costs if it reaches the field and a new release has to be manufactured to fix it. This not only costs in the obvious dollars but also in the reputation of the firm delivering the product, especially in shops that run 24*7.
• Management responsibility: Success requires the participation of all members of the team, but it remains the responsibility of management to provide the resources needed to succeed.
• Continuous improvement: The plan-do-check-act cycle is the basis for quality improvement (as defined by Shewhart and modified by Deming, in the ASQ Handbook, pages 13–14, American Society for Quality, 1999). In addition, quality improvement initiatives undertaken by the performing organization, such as TQM and Six Sigma, can improve the quality of the project’s management as well as the quality of the project’s product. Process improvement models include Malcolm Baldrige, CMM®, and CMMISM.
The cost of quality refers to the total cost of all efforts related to quality.
Project decisions can impact operational costs of quality as a result of product returns, warranty claims, and recall campaigns. However, the temporary nature of the project means that investments in product quality improvement, especially defect prevention and appraisal, can often be borne by the acquiring organization, rather than the project, since the project may not last long enough to reap the rewards.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Quality planning must consider cost-benefits tradeoffs. The primary benefit of meeting quality requirements is less rework, which means higher productivity, lower costs, and increased stakeholder satisfaction. The primary cost of meeting quality requirements is the expense associated with Project Quality Management activities.
Benchmarking involves comparing actual or planned project practices to those of other projects to generate ideas for improvement and to provide a basis by which to measure performance. These other projects can be within the performing organization or outside of it, and can be within the same or in another application area.
Design of Experiments:
Design of experiments (DOE) is a statistical method that helps identify which factors may influence specific variables of a product or process under development or in production. It also plays a role in the optimization of products or processes. Think of the scientific method.
An example is where an organization can use DOE to reduce the sensitivity of product performance to sources of variations caused by environmental or manufacturing differences. The most important aspect of this technique is that it provides a statistical framework for systematically changing all of the important factors, instead of changing the factors one at a time. The analysis of the experimental data should provide the optimal conditions for the product or process, highlighting the factors that influence the results, and revealing the presence of interactions and synergisms among the factors. For example, automotive designers use this technique to determine which combination of suspension and tires will produce the most desirable results in the time given.
Cost of Quality (COQ):
Quality costs are the total costs incurred by investment in preventing nonconformance to requirements, appraising the product or service for conformance to requirements, and failing to meet requirements (rework). Failure costs are often categorized into internal and external. Failure costs are also called cost of poor quality.
Additional Quality Planning Tools
Other quality planning tools are also often used to help better define the situation and help plan effective quality management activities. These include brainstorming, affinity diagrams, force field analysis, nominal group techniques, matrix diagrams, flowcharts, and prioritization matrices.
As you can see quality is a main component of customer satisfaction and to the bottom line. A bug found early can save a company millions of dollars!
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