Last week we explored the importance and methods of Project Cost Management, and this week we will discuss Project Quality Management, the fifth Knowledge Area involved in sounds Project Management. Project Quality Management concerns monitoring and recording results of the execution of quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes, and key benefits of this process include: (1) identifying the causes of poor process or product quality and recommending and/or taking action to eliminate them; and (2) validating that project deliverables and work meet the requirements specified by key stakeholders necessary for final acceptance.
Best Practices/Mindsets Guide to Quality Management planning
To ensure that Quality Management Planning is a fruitful process, there are certain best practices and mindsets to diligently follow to ensure that the process does not just become another task but becomes an integral and routine function of the organization. Those best practices and mindsets include:
Quality Management Planning is an integral part of the organization’s objectives;
Monitoring of processes, not people, is the key to effective quality control;
Quality Management Planning should be systematic;
Problems should be analyzed, not merely identified; and
Quality improvement is a never-ending quality management process.
Quality Management Planning – Introduction
Quality Management as the name suggests, is the overall monitoring of the product, services or the internal processes of any organization for its overall betterment. It ensures consistency in the product or service delivered so all customer experiences are of premier quality. Quality management planning is not only limited to the product or service but also to the processes and goals of the organization. Maintaining uniformity in the organization’s objectives, product or services is the core function of quality management planning.
Superior Quality Management is attained by breaking it down into four, manageable process categories: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control, and quality improvement.
Quality planning is the foremost step in attaining quality management process. It helps identify the areas that need improvement and the means to achieve the desired goals. Basically, quality management planning is the first step and gives a roadmap for the further processes.
Quality Assurance is the combination of processes and techniques that help identify the means of achieving the desired level of quality for a product or service. In these processes, it is important to identify the lags in the already established processes so that the objective of attaining unswerving quality can be achieved.
Quality control, as the name suggests, is the compilation of all those quality management processes that help attain a level of control in the desired level of set quality standards and tracks any deviation. It primarily reviews the quality of the product or service to check whether it is of the set standards.
Quality improvement is a continuous never-ending quality management process that is updated and upgraded from time to time. With the advent of technology newer and more apt methods of measuring quality standards get introduced in the system, it is a holistic process that not only involves implementing newer systems but also reinventing older systems to find more effecting process methods.
What to consider when developing a project quality management plan
Consider these three points when developing a project quality management plan.
1. Quality planning
Establishing quality metrics is critical to quality planning. Since projects are pursued to improve aspects of a business and meet the needs of key stakeholders, project managers need to develop metrics that will show these improvements. Project managers must be clear about what processes their project is impacting so they can develop measures to determine how much improvement their project created. Project management tools often used during this process are flow charts, benefits/costs analysis, design of experiments, etc.
2. Quality assurance
Quality assurance is performed throughout the project since it ensures that the project’s deliverables address the customer’s needs. It ensures that the project product/service is defect-free and conforms to the stated and unstated requirements of the customer.
3. Quality control
In this phase, specific project results are monitored and measured against the quality metrics established in the quality management planning stage. Results reviewed include those of the final product, schedule, and cost performance. Pareto diagrams, control charts, trend analysis, etc. are among the many tools used in this process.
How to implement a project quality management plan
Step 1: Input data gathering
Establishing a Project Quality Management Plan requires data. Some of the information needed includes the product and project scope, the risk register, and the implementation schedule. Project management technique(s) to be used should also be accounted for as various methods have different benefits and restrictions.
Data gathered during this process are the raw materials the project team needs for successful project planning and implementation. Some helpful tips during the data gathering step include:
Use surveys and questionnaires – Gathering data can be quite challenging, especially when working with multiple stakeholders. For example, differing schedules could keep the project managers and the stakeholders from meeting at a single place and time. Online surveys or questionnaires can be used to address this issue. Project managers can obtain the information they need without having to meet the various stakeholders involved in the project in person.
Use an online meeting platform – In situations where the key stakeholders must discuss technicalities or other aspects of the data gathering process in greater detail, secure online platforms can be used.
Step 2: Data analysis
Analyzing the data collected is the next step for project managers to gain a better perspective on the project and make better decisions in the implementation stage.
Project managers may use various data analysis techniques such as conduct a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in the setup phase to compare the cost of running the project with the expected benefits that the team will obtain. Once the data is analysed, the project manager can begin to establish quality planning activities to ensure that the tasks are well within the budget while achieving the quality requirements.
Other techniques that can be used in this stage are alternatives analyses, cost of quality (CoQ) analyses, and decision tree analyses. Project managers choose the appropriate techniques based on the dynamics of the project, the quality of data obtained, and the resources the company can afford. Some helpful tips during are the data analysis step include:
Using data analytics tools – Working with the right data analytics tools will streamline the data analysis process and will give project management teams faster, practical valuable information and insights.
Leveraging data visualization software – Translating analyzed data into visualizations makes it easier and more effective in presenting to the project team, improving overall team collaboration and understanding of the project.
Step 3: Establish quality metrics
Once project quality planning activities are developed and approved, the next step is to establish quality metrics.
During this step, the project quality management team chooses specific product attributes and defines the control measures during the project implementation process. The team also establishes the quality metrics that will be used for quality assurance and control activities. For instance, quality metrics such as on-time performance, defect frequency, cost control, and failure rate can be included.
From a macro perspective, quality metrics will serve as a guide for project managers to make the right decisions that benefit the entirety of the project, not just a portion. Some helpful tips during the establish quality metrics step include:
Uncover unstated needs – In some cases, the key stakeholders will find it difficult to convey their most important priorities. In some cases they may be unaware of what those priorities really should be, and in other cases, articulation of the vision is unclear. Whatever the situation, it is the job of the project manager to probe and to fully and explicitly understand stakeholder priorities so that quality can be defined and achieved.
Use templates – Streamline the process of defining metrics by using templates to help the project management team work more efficiently and produce faster results. Templates will refine.
Step 4: Perform quality assurance and control
During the actual implementation of quality assurance and control, working from a checklist is critical. It ensures consistency in quality metrics and allows the project managers more control over the expected performance of the project.
It is also important to note that there is a difference between quality assurance and quality control. While quality assurance concerns the examination processes and necessary changes that will lead to the end product, quality control is concerned with product/service assessment. Both are necessary for project quality management.
Quality assurance includes steps such as defining your process, identifying and selecting tools, conducting quality audits, and training of quality processes and standards. Quality control tasks involve inspection, testing, checkpoint review, and walkthrough. Quality assurance is a proactive process, while quality control is reactive. Some helpful tips during the establish quality metrics step include:
Use all-in-one tools when performing both QA and QC – The use of both QA and QC allows the project management team to focus on the process instead of wasting time and energy shifting from one tool to another.
Work with automation software – Automating r processes can save time and money, improving productivity and efficiency.
Step 5: Develop an improvement plan
The final step in implementing a good project quality management process is to establish an improvement plan.
An improvement plan puts in place detailed steps to analyze quality performance and identify activities that will enhance the project and product value. The project management team can include/propose reasons and steps to apply changes to project boundaries, product objectives, process metrics, product configuration, and more.
The improvement plan must be approved by the project manager, and it is crucial to ensure proper document management so your team doesn’t miss out on critical issues and improvement activities.
Next week we will continue to our in-depth exploration of essential Project Management Knowledge Areas by continuing to develop our understanding of quality management, quality assurance, and quality control. For more information visit www.cvgmanagement-dfw.com.