Simply put – Does the project or product meet its requisite purpose properly? If so, we can consider our product/project to be of good quality.
The broader goal of quality management is to ensure that a given project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.
Quality management has two components:
1. Project quality management and
2. Product quality management.
While product quality management techniques depend upon the specific product that the project is going to produce, project quality management applies to all projects independent of the nature of the products.
While dealing with quality, you should be able to distinguish between the terms in the following pairs:
• Grade and quality - Grade is a category assigned to products with the same overall functional use but that differ in their technical characteristics and features, whereas quality is the degree to which the inherent characteristics of a product meet the requirements. Number of defects is an example of poor quality, whereas a limited number of features is an example of low grade.
• Precision and accuracy - Precision is a spread of different measurements of the same quantity, constant, or variable, such as gravity or cost. The smaller the spread of measured values, the better the precision. Accuracy is a measurement of how close the measured values are to the true value of the quantity. The closer the measured value is to the actual (or true) value, the better the accuracy of measurements.
• Prevention and inspection - Prevention is a direction to perform an activity that will keep an error from entering the product and the process. Inspection is a technique to examine whether an activity, component, product, result, or service complies with planned requirements. So, the goal of inspection is to ensure that errors do not reach the customer.
PMI’s approach to quality management is intended to be compatible with that of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is compatible with proprietary approaches to quality, such as those proposed by Crosby, Deming, Juan, and others. It is also compatible with proprietary approaches to quality management, such as continuous improvement, cost of quality (COQ), design reviews, failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM), and the voice of the customer.
Project management and quality management have come a long way as separate disciplines of knowledge and practice. It should not come as a surprise that quality management is one of nine knowledge areas in standard project management. In a complementary way, both modern quality management and project management recognize the importance of the following critical points:
Continuous improvement means continuing to improve the quality through a process of planning for quality, implementing quality, auditing quality, and re-planning based on lessons learned or auditing. So really, quality improvement is an endless cycle, called a plan-do-check-act cycle as defined by Shewhart and modified by Deming. Performing organizations can also use techniques such as Six Sigma and TQM to improve the quality.
Methodologies like Six Sigma and ITIL are based on this concept of continuous improvement
Customer satisfaction can be a very vague notion that can mean different things to different parties. However, in project management and quality management, customer satisfaction means planned customer requirements are met. To achieve customer satisfaction in the real world, you need to understand, define, and evaluate the customer expectations and also manage those expectations, in addition to meeting the planned requirements. Otherwise, you might meet the planned requirements, and the customer may still be dissatisfied.
Customer Satisfaction is one of the key performance indicators for any project manager. A good project manager will not only deliver a good quality work product but also meet or strive to always exceed customer expectations and keep the customer happy and satisfied always. After all, Customer is King in any business.
This refers to the responsibility of management to provide resources needed for the project team to succeed. Although all team members should be responsible for the success of their parts of the project, they cannot succeed without management responsibility.
A project team cannot deliver a product without the requisite logistics. A workstation, a server, a database and a network are all mandatory requirements for any product and it’s the responsibility of the management to provide these to their team members in order for the team to deliver the work.
Prevention over inspection
One of the fundamental tenets of modern quality management is plan, design, and build in quality as opposed to inspect in. The cost of preventing mistakes is much less than finding them through inspections and then fixing them. Therefore, cost of quality (COQ) is less in prevention than through inspection. The COQ is defined as the total cost of quality-related efforts throughout the product lifecycle.
The age old saying “Better Safe Than Sorry” speaks volumes.
Look at the image below to understand the high level quality management process:
The Quality Management process explained in the picture above has the following processes:
• Plan Quality - This process is used to identify which quality requirements and standards are relevant to the project at hand and to determine how to meet these requirements and standards, as well as how compliance to the quality requirements will be demonstrated.
• Perform Quality Assurance - This process is used to audit the fulfillment of quality requirements to ensure that the project employs all the planned quality requirements and standards.
• Perform Quality Control - This process monitors project results to ensure that they meet the agreed-upon quality standards and identifies ways to eliminate the factors that keep the project results from meeting standards—that is, to make recommendations for changes or actions.
The processes for quality assurance are used as part of executing the project, and quality control is used as part of monitoring and controlling the project. These processes are therefore discussed in forthcoming chapters. Quality planning is performed during the project planning stage and so we will cover that next.
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