Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service is consistent. It has four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control, and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not only on product and service quality but also on the means to achieve it.
The term Quality can have many different interpretations, we are going to define quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.” If the requirements are not clear, there is a strong possibility quality cannot be achieved on the project. Remember that all the processes in a project work together. Quality touches on all facets of a project. Let's take a look at a scenario.
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"Quality is not an act, it is a habit" - Aristotle
Quality Management Plan
As Senior Project Manager in the PMO Division of Riverdale Hospital, you have been tasked with managing the rollout of state of the art Cardio Lab. You have already had several meetings with stakeholders in the past year to review the project scope, schedule and budgets. There was an extensive undertaking with rigorous data analysis to ensure that although the quality is the Hospital’s top priority, the cost could not outweigh the benefits. You attended several brainstorming sessions to gather data. You are now ready to focus on Quality Management Plan, which ultimately will become part of the Project Plan. The term Quality can have many different interpretations, we are going to define quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.” If the requirements are not clear, there is a strong possibility quality cannot be achieved on the project. Remember that all the processes in a project work together. Quality touches on all facets of a project. Now onto our Quality Management Plan.
You decided the best way to achieve this is to use a template that will focus on Planning, Managing and Controlling Quality. Your past projects have taught you that with a good Quality Management Plan, you are doing things right the first time rather than waste time, spend money and decrease productivity. In a previous meeting, you recall the Hospital had hired a consultant who is a subject matter expert (SME)on Quality. You meet with them to gain some insight.
During your chat, the SME shares different philosophies and terms that you are somewhat familiar with. Total Quality Management, the idea that everyone is responsible for quality. You like the sound of this. You share your thoughts with the SME on ISO 9000, having gone through the process of documenting quality and submitting it for review by the International Standards Organization. You continue your chat and discuss Continuous Improvement or Kaizen, stressing that improvements are constant and can be in the form of small changes. You recall a seminar you attended when you received a great overview on Plan-Do-Check-Act which described by Shewhart and Deming, the same idea of continuous improvement. You realize that this discussion can go on for the entire day, discussing the vast terms and philosophies surrounding quality. Before leaving the SME reminds you to keep customer satisfaction as a focal point. Simply stated, does the deliverable do the right thing and does it do the thing right.
Now that you are armed with some additional insight, you get down to writing the Quality Management Plan. It is important that this process is performed early in the project. As mentioned before quality touches every facet of a project, but particularly can have a significant impact on scope, time, cost and risk. You review some plans you know will provide guidance and ways to measure quality. On the document server, you review the project management plan, the risk plan as well as review the requirements and the scope baseline. It’s always helpful to review past project documentation. Learning from the past will help avoid mistakes in the present. The Hospital’s existing quality policy is also incorporated into the Plan.
What good is a Quality Management Plan if no one follows it. To properly manage quality, the plan must be put into practice. As the project is in motion, you will look to see if the product, service or result achieves quality and do the processes that are being used lead to a quality product, service or result. Remember the Project Manager is ultimately responsible for quality. Managing quality is an ongoing process and is performed through the entire life of the project. You will constantly review the Project Management Plan to confirm the project requirements as well as if the quality expectations are being met. Flowcharts can help predict where quality problems may lie. You look at cause and effect and try to trace the root of the problem so that a proper solution can be determined. In the Lab project, there are many products and services from medical equipment, record keeping systems to doctor-patient care that are all deliverables that quality is of paramount importance. You have asked the Hospital permission to have the SME to perform quality audits on the project to evaluate if any of the activities taking place, such as equipment testing and furniture procurement can be improved. You bear in mind that the stakeholders are looking to design this Lab with cost efficiency in mind.
Along the way, each of the deliverables is going to be inspected, measured and tested to confirm they meet the quality standards. You would not have a machine that monitors a patient’s heart rate that provided inaccurate readings. You will continue to control quality throughout the entire project until all the deliverables for the Lab have been signed off and accepted. You will continuously compare the deliverables against the quality plan to see how they align. In the example of the heart rate machine, if we find that it is faulty, the manufacturer will need to be contacted. It may require some rework to figure out what research could have been conducted prior to choosing this product. There are statistical methods that can be to determine if quality standards are being met. Now that you have captured this in your Quality Management Plan, it is time to present to the stakeholders for their feedback.
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