The word quality is often used indiscriminately for many different meanings. Quality can be defined as “fitness for use,” “customer satisfaction,” “doing things right the first time,” or “zero defects.” These definitions are acceptable because quality can refer to degrees of excellence. Webster’s dictionary defines quality as “an inherent characteristic, property or attribute.” QReview will define quality as a characteristic of a product or process that can be measured. Quality control is the science of keeping these characteristics or qualities within certain bounds.
Project Quality Management
Project quality management encompasses the processes and activities that are used to figure out and achieve the quality of the deliverables of a project. However, quality can be an elusive word.
Quality is simply what the customer or stakeholder needs from the project deliverables. By keeping the definition tied to the customer or stakeholder, quality management can have a narrower focus, which means it’s more likely to achieve its goals.
Project Quality Management Concepts
Project managers oversee implementing a project quality management plan. The main idea, again, to deliver a product or service to the specifications of the customer or stakeholder. Doing so requires knowing quality management concepts.
(i) Customer Satisfaction
Without customer satisfaction there can be no quality. Even if a deliverable meets all aspects of what the customer or stakeholder has required but is done so where the process itself was not to satisfactory, then there’s a problem.
Of course, the deliverable must meet with agreed upon requirements or else the project has failed because the product of the project and the management of the project didn’t meet with the expectations of the customer or stakeholder.
That’s why implementing quality control means managing both process and people. Meet with your customer or stakeholder regularly to keep them abreast of the project’s progress. Get their feedback and make sure that you’re being fully transparent with them to avoid issues arising later.
(ii) Prevention over Inspection
Quality doesn’t come free. The Cost of Quality (COQ) is the money spent dealing with issues during the project, and then after the project, to fix any failures. These are broken up into two categories: cost of conformance and cost of nonconformance.
The cost of conformance can be considered a preventive cost. These costs are primarily related to training, the documentation process, equipment needed, and the time required to get the quality done right. Other costs related to this can include testing, destructive testing loss and inspections.
The cost of nonconformance refers to internal failure costs. These consist of having to rework something or even scrap it entirely. Further costs can come from liabilities, warranty work and lost business.
(iii) Continuous Improvement
This concept of quality project management can be found in Six Sigma and Total Quality Management (TQM) and is featured dominantly in the Prevention Over Inspection concept.
This concept is, as explained in its title, an ongoing effort to address improvements of the deliverables over time. Whether through small, incremental changes or through large ones, the opportunity to identify and address change is always present.
Applying this concept also means constantly monitoring and documenting any issues that come up, so you can then use the lessons learned when managing future projects. This way, you run a more efficient project and likely won’t repeat mistakes.
How to Implement Quality Project Management
Once you have an idea of the different concepts, the next step is to implement a project quality management plan. To do so, follow these three steps.
- Plan Quality: First identify the requirements for the quality of the deliverable and how the project needs to be managed. Agree on how this process will be documented and how that information will be delivered. Will you have regular meetings, emails, etc.? The plan will include these specifics as well as metrics for measuring the quality while managing the project. This should include a quality checklist to collect and organize the marks you need to hit during the project.
- Quality Assurance: Quality assurance, according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ) is “the planned and systemic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements for a product or service will be fulfilled.” Use quality assurance to make sure your processes are in fact working towards making the project deliverables meet quality requirements. Two ways to accomplish this is by using a process checklist and a project audit.
- Quality Control: Every process needs a policeman, so to speak, to make sure that the rules are being following and that the expected quality is being met. Some ways to ensure that the required quality of the deliverables is being achieved is through peer reviews and testing. It’s essential to check the quality of the deliverables during the project management process in order to adjust the deliverables if they’re not meeting the standards that have been set. This can be done at the end of the project, but it’s not as efficient to redo rather than to readjust.