A major assumption in project management is that quality must be controlled and ensured. There are differing opinions on how to measure quality, companies need to demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement to create a competitive advantage. So what is Project Quality Management?
Even projects that are delivered within budget and on time are not successful if the quality of the deliverable is poor. Quality management is all about identifying and following quality requirements, auditing the results of quality control measurements and using quality measurements to control quality, recommending project changes if necessary.
Quality management has two goals:
- Ensuring a quality end-product.
- Ensuring that all of the processes involved during the project lifecycle are carried out efficiently.
By managing quality, project managers can ensure a successful project and increased customer satisfaction. Project managers can also increase their bottom line with the boost in productivity. And, we can use PMBOK practices to achieve these goals.
There are three PMBOK processes for quality management. The first of these three processes is quality planning. Quality planning involves ensuring that the proper project management principles have been applied.
An important aspect of project quality planning involves planning for the quality of the deliverables involved. If the company is working on a new software program, then a quality program would be one that ran properly. One resource in quality planning is quality materials. By having reliable programs, templates, and standards, a project manager can help ensure that the project quality is high.
The second process in quality management is performance of quality assurance tests. These tests use a system of metrics to determine whether the quality plan is proceeding in an acceptable manner. Quality assurance tests both project quality and customer satisfaction with product quality.
The final process in quality management involves quality control.
All stakeholders of an organization or a project. From project team members to upper management must be fully engaged in improving processes, products, and services in their respective areas. This can often supported by the use of Kaizen incremental and systematic methods to help ensure the customer needs and expectations are met. Kaizen is the Japanese word for “improvement”.
In business, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. These activities will result in quality being improved in all aspects of the process.
Within PMBOK, Project Quality Management has three key processes that you should perform in your projects…
Plan Quality involves identifying the quality requirements for both the project and the product and documenting how the project can show it is meeting the quality requirements. The outputs of this process include a Quality Management Plan, quality metrics, quality checklists and a Process Improvement Plan.
Perform Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance is used to verify that the project processes are sufficient so that if they are being adhered to the project deliverables will be of good quality. Process checklists and project audits are two methods used for project quality assurance.
Perform Quality Control
Quality Control verifies that the product meets the quality requirements. Peer reviews and testing are two methods used to perform quality control. The results will determine if corrective action is needed.
Some of the tools and techniques you can use to perform quality control include…
- Cause and Effect Diagram (i.e. Fishbone diagrams created by Kaoru Ishikawa )
- Control Chart
- Pareto Chart
- Run Chart
- Scatter Diagram
- Statistical Sampling
Many people get confused between quality control and quality assurance.
To differentiate between the two, remember that:
Quality control, is about evaluating whether the product of your project meets the quality standards. It is performed after the product has been completed. According to the PMBOK Guide, 5th edition, “Control Quality is the process of monitoring and recording results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes.”
Quality assurance, on the other hand, is about ensuring that the product is produced in the right way. It is proactive and concerned about the processes and activities during the products development.
Within the project world lessons learned can be used to address areas of previous project failures and identify a lack of continuous improvement efforts throughout the project and product life cycle. The project team should capture good and bad lessons learnt throughout the project to provide guidance for future projects.
The format for kaizen can be individual, suggestion system, small group, or large group. At Toyota, it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in constantly improving their own work environment and productivity. This group is often guided through the kaizen process by a supervisor; sometimes this is the supervisor’s key role. Kaizen on a broad, cross-departmental scale in companies, generates total quality management, and frees human efforts through improving productivity using machines and computing power.
While kaizen (at Toyota) usually delivers small improvements, the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardization can yields large results in terms of overall improvement in productivity.
Quality management and PDCA
The Plan-Do-Check-Act, or PDCA, cycle also known as the Deming cycle, Shewhart cycle; is a key component of quality management and continuous improvement upon which much of the PMI PMBOK® Guide is based.
The PDCA cycle should be used when you have:
- As a model for continuous improvement.
- When starting a new improvement project.
- When developing a new or improved design of a process, product or service.
- When defining a repetitive work process.
- When planning data collection and analysis in order to verify and prioritize problems or root causes.
- When implementing any change.
There is a function that’s unique to each of the sections:
- Plan– This section recognizes an opportunity and plans for change. For project efforts, this includes the development of a quality management plan.
- Do– This section refers to the actions where you test the change, maybe carry out a small scale study. The change is implemented.
- Check– This section consists of quality control and quality assurance. Review the test, analyse the results and identify what you’ve learned. It is an iterative process of reviewing through quality control, assuring that the quality meets the requirements, and determining whether the change made an impact.
- Act– Take action based on what you learned in the study step: If the change did not work, go through the cycle again with a different plan. If you were successful, incorporate what you learned from the test into wider changes. Use what you learned to plan new improvements, beginning the cycle again.
PDCA and lessons learned
During the planning phase, you will identify an opportunity and refer to previously developed lessons learned. This would be an input to the development of various project plans, including the project quality management plan.
During the Act phase, additional lessons learned are captured and documented based on the results of the entire project just completed. The results captured should include not only recommendations for things that were successful, but also identification of areas where problems were encountered. The variance between the previous lessons learned and those captured is part of this new effort and should be compared. Part of this analysis should be to see if previous problems were still encountered, and whether adjustments were able to be made to mitigate or remove the problem. These combined lessons learned are then made available for future efforts and to support continuous quality improvement.
The lessons learned process
There are several steps that constitute the lessons learned process:
1.Defining objectives and preparing– This includes defining objectives as well as determining when lessons learned will be captured, who will be involved, and the amount and type of information to collect.
2.Capturing lessons learned information– Information can be captured from as many sources as time and budget will allow.
3.Analyzing information– Once captured, the data must be analyzed and verified. Additional information may be needed to put items into the proper context.
4.Verifying and sharing lessons learned– The preliminary finding should be shared and reviewed with relevant stakeholders to provide additional feedback, including areas of agreements as well as recommended revisions.
5.Storing information in a repository– Since a key objective of capturing lessons learned is to make this information available for future projects, the results should be easily found. Because of the volume in usage, storage is often maintained in a repository or electronic database known as a knowledge or information base.
Lessons learned and best practices
Lessons learned focus on past results and become part of the organizational process assets. They should be used as similar efforts are being planned. Best practices provides foresight into how best to do things in the future by providing a procedure or method that over time has proven itself to be better than any other procedure used today for similar efforts.
When best practices are used by the entire organization, they become a major component of organizational learning. Through this learning, the organization is able to continually improve both its results on project efforts as well as its overall customer satisfaction.
Collectively they have pooled their knowledge and experience to develop for you practical project management hot tips, guidelines, templates and checklists that will assist you greatly in successfully delivering your projects. Many of our practitioners are recognised thought leaders and have received international awards for programme and project delivery. Between them they have several hundred years of experience… and they are still looking good for their age!
The document packs which align to PMP and Prince 2 methodologies have been reviewed by the National Audit Office and the OGC Office of Government Commerce in the UK, and utilised by many international companies and government offices.