Modern quality management and project management are complementary. They both emphasize customer satisfaction and the underlying belief that quality leads to customer satisfaction. The main objective in quality management is making sure that the project meets the needs it was originally created to meet—nothing more, nothing less. In other words, to ensure quality, you must meet the needs of the stakeholder.
Meeting or exceeding requirements, however, is not part of project quality management. According to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), quality is “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.” The project manager and project management team have a special responsibility to balance quality and grade (a category or rank assigned to products or services having the same functional use but different technical characteristics). This responsibility ensures quality expectations are met. This means that it might be possible and reasonable to have a quality, low-grade product, but it is never acceptable to have a low-quality product.
At the beginning of the project, requirements are determined with the stakeholders. These requirements become the foundation for the work of the project. After that, the project manager’s job is to ensure that the work is done with no extras included. Quality is not about giving the customer extras or completing extra work. The notion of extras is often based on possibly erroneous perceptions of what you believe the customer wants. These extras add time, possible costs and other impacts to a project but do not always result in increased customer satisfaction.
Project quality management consists of three major processes:
- Plan quality management: identifying the quality requirements and standards for the project and product.
- Perform quality assurance: auditing the quality requirements and quality control results to ensure appropriate quality standards are used.
- Control quality: monitoring and recording the results of quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes.
The definition of quality is central to understanding these three processes. To be able to define quality, you need to be clear about the meaning of the following terms:
- Validation: assurance that the product meets the agreed-upon needs
- Verification: compliance with requirements
- Precision: repeatable measures in a tight grouping
- Accuracy: closeness of a measure to the true value
- Tolerance: range of acceptable results
The quality management planning process determines the quality standards that are applicable to the project and devising a way to satisfy them. The goal is to create a quality management plan which documents the following:
- The way the team will implement the quality policy
- The way the quality of both the project and the product will be assured during the project
- The resources required to ensure quality
- The additional activities necessary to carry out the quality plan
Identifying these items might require updates to the project management plan or schedule, which emphasizes the evolving nature of the plan and project documents.
The plan, like other components created during the planning phase, is written by the project manager with input from stakeholders. When planning for quality on a project follow the corporate quality policies that are in place. If a corporate quality policy does not exist, the project team should create one for the project. The project team might even need to adapt an existing policy to better suit the nature of the project.