The Whole 9 Yards Of Project and Product Quality

Quality Management Knowledge AreaThe simple definition of Quality, given by ‘Quality Guru’ Joseph Juran is “fitness for intended use“.

Quality processes ensure that the project deliverables meet requirements given by customer.

There are 3 project management activities in this domain knowledge segment –

Planning to Manage Quality

This is to come up with a thorough quality management plan for the project that talks about quality standards to follow and procedures to use to make sure that outcome of project meets documented requirements.

Performing Quality Process Compliance and Audit

This is to look at how to create processes, tools, and checklists – your project’s quality activities – so they fit in your organization’s overall quality policy, framework, and guidelines.

Controlling Quality of Deliverables

This is about looking at the deliverable and making sure they comply with requirements. In other words, implementing in the project those processes and tools devised in the previous step.

This is where you will log any defects and raise change requests. This is also the place where sometimes reality hits hard to make us realize that prevention is better than cure!

The quality control measures and techniques are domain-specific and are different for different industries. For instance, the techniques used for software product development are different as compared to the one used in manufacturing industry.

Quality related activities also ensure that all processes used on the project are continuously improved.

Note – overall quality activities also include the efforts to continuously increase the effectiveness of all processes we have identified – tailored – in the project.

Quality Concepts to Know for the Exam

There are few concepts around quality that have evolved in the past few decades and are relevant from PMP® exam standpoint as well. They are –

Customer Satisfaction

is the utmost goal of any project. Ensuring ‘fitness for intended use’ means, in the first place, understanding clearly what end user wants. You would get the first glimpses of this need in project Statement of Work (SOW) – the first input to the very first process: Develop Project Charter. As a project manager then, our job is to ensure that all through the requirements gathering process this customer need is captured in pure essence.

There could be few unstated requirements as well, which are almost commonsensical (is that a word?). Though not explicitly documented, they are expected in the product. For instance, in a user login module of a software it may not be explicitly mentioned that the combination of username and password should be unique in the system.

However, it is only fair to consider this otherwise the software may show one user’s data to another. These need to be analyzed and documented during Collect Requirements process to avoid nasty surprises during release.

Prevention over Inspection

is a universal truth most of us project managers realize during quality control phase of the project. Cost of correcting a mistake is much higher than preventing it in the first place. In fact, farther away an error is discovered from planning stage, more expensive it becomes to fix.

Continuous Improvement

is a practice that is gathering momentum in disciplines such as software product development (as a principle this is invaluable in personal life as well). An effective feedback mechanism is essential part of ensuring success for this model.

Management Responsibility

implies that while project success is the responsibility of project team, the organization management should continuously support it and provide necessary resources on time for the project to succeed.

Cost of Quality (CoQ)

This is an important concept we will see in the tools and techniques section of the first project management activity – Planning for Quality.

Cost of Quality

Cost of Conformance

All the money you spend in setting up testing process, training people, and actually spending time and effort by the Quality team in testing project deliverables to ensure quality goals are achieved.

Cost of Non-conformance

Money you spend in repair, rework, scrap, defective product recalls. This is pretty bad for the organization as compared to Cost of Conformance. The direct costs are higher due to additional logistics involved of getting defective parts from market back and delivering replacements. Indirect costs include lost reputation, and resultant higher damage-control costs.

Now, cost of conformance is planned for, and budgeted. Some of non-conformance costs are not planned for, like product recalls.

Tailoring considerations

Essentially this is about making adjustments to processes, tools, and techniques to be used in the project. While 3 Quality processes – planning, quality assurance, quality control – are essential for any project, the tools and techniques are used, the kind of checklists and systems are used, is decided by tailoring considerations.

Some of the factors that influence tailoring considerations are –

  • development methodology such as waterfall, agile, blend and so on
  • needs of the stakeholders/client
  • regulations – legal, environmental, industry-specific
  • best practices followed in the industry
  • existing practices, processes, tools, systems of the performing organization
  • technical/technological constraints

There are couple of more concepts one need to understand before moving to planning process – Quality Versus Grade & Precision Versus Accuracy!

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