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Friday, July 15, 2011

Points to Remember: Project Quality Management

Quality is the measurement of how closely your product meets its requirements.

Whenever we talk about quality the following 3 terms invariably pop up. They are:
1. Customer satisfaction is about making sure that the people who are paying for the end product are happy with what they get. When the team gathers requirements for the specification, they try to write down all of the things that the customers want in the product so that you know how to make them happy. Some requirements can be left unstated, too. Those are the ones that are implied by the customer’s explicit needs. In the end, if you fulfill all of your requirements, your customers should be really satisfied.

2. Fitness for use is about making sure that the product you build has the best design possible to fit the customer’s needs. Which would you choose: a product that’s beautifully designed, well constructed, solidly built, and all-around pleasant to look at but does not do what you need, or a product that does what you want despite being really ugly to look at and a pain in the butt to work with? You’ll always choose the product that fits your needs, even if it’s seriously limited. That’s why it’s important that the product both does what it is supposed to do and does it well.

3. Conformance to requirements is the core of both customer satisfaction and fitness for use. Above all, your product needs to do what you wrote down in your requirements specification. Your requirements should take into account both what will satisfy your customer and the best design possible for the job. In the end, your product’s quality is judged by whether you built what you said you would build.

Quality Vs Grade

People often confuse Quality with Grade. Lets take a simple example: Watches...

Lets say Brand A is a popular brand of watches in India which costs Rs.2500 to Rs. 10000/- per watch whereas Brand B is an even popular brand which costs Rs.25000 to Rs.50000/-. Both brands make high quality watches but they are of different grade. As per their cost, people will value Brand A to be much lesser in monetary value than Brand B is. Hence Brand B is of a higher grade than Brand A. Nonetheless, if your Brand B watch fails to work after 3 days, its supposed to be of bad quality even though it is of very high grade.

Grade has nothing to do with quality. They are both two not-so-related terms which people tend to confuse often. As PMP Certified Project Managers, we must be able to tell them apart...

Now get the picture?

There are three processes in the Quality Management knowledge area, and they’re all designed to make sure that you and your team deliver the highest quality product that you can.

1. Plan Quality is like the other planning processes you’ve learned about—you create a Quality Management Plan to help guide you and your team through quality activities.
2. Perform Quality Control is the Monitoring & Controlling process where you look at each deliverable and inspect it for defects.
3. Perform Quality Assurance is where you take a step back and look at how well your project fits in with your company’s overall quality standards and guidelines.

Cost of quality is what you get when you add up the cost of all of the prevention and inspection activities you are going to do on your project. It doesn’t just include the testing. It includes any time spent writing standards, reviewing documents, meeting to analyze the root causes of defects, rework to fix the defects once they’re found by the team—absolutely everything you do to ensure quality on the project.

Metrics tell what and how you are going to measure your product’s quality. They give you some objective measures to help you make better judgments about it.

Validated deliverables and validated changes are two of the most important outputs of Perform Quality Control. Every single deliverable on the project needs to be inspected to make sure it meets your quality standards. If you find defects, the team needs to fix them—and then those repairs need to be checked, to make sure the defects are now gone.

Inspection means checking each deliverable for defects. That means checking your specs and your documentation, as well as your product, for bugs.

The better your Plan Quality, the less inspection you need.

Ishikawa diagrams help you to pinpoint the causes of defects.

The rule of seven means that any time you have seven data points in a row that fall on the same side of the mean on a control chart, you need to figure out why.

When data points fall above the upper limit or below the lower limit on a control chart, the process is out of control.

For the test, using any of the seven basic quality tools is usually a good indication that you are in the Quality Control process.

Ishikawa, fishbone, and cause-and-effect diagrams are all the same thing.

Scatter charts help you look at the relationship between two different kinds of data.

Flowcharts help you get a handle on how processes work by showing all of the decision points graphically.

Grade refers to the value of a product, but not its quality. So, a product can be low-grade by design, and that’s fine. But if it’s a low-quality product, that’s a big problem

Quality Audits are reviews of your project by your company. They figure out whether or not you are following the company’s process. The point is
to figure out if there are ways to help you be more effective by finding the stuff you are doing on your project that is inefficient or that causes defects. When you find those problem areas, you recommend corrective actions to fix them.

Process Analysis is when you look at your process to find out how to make it better. You use your process improvement plan to do this one.

Points to Remember - Other Topics:

Introduction to Projects & Project Management
Relationship Between Knowledge Areas & Process Groups
Project Integration Management
Project Scope Management
Project Time Management
Project Cost Management
Human Resource Management
Project Communication Management
Project Risk Management
Project Procurement Management
Ethics & Professional Responsibility

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