Quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills the requirements. You are looking to deliver the desired outcome to the stakeholders while maintaining the Project budget and schedule. When managing quality, our goal is to make sure the Quality Plan is being used and followed as well as we continuously look to enhance the quality of the process which in turn will improve the product, service or results. Like with most processes, Managing Quality is performed many times over the life of the project.
Every process is affected by quality. Many Project Managers have a difficult time understanding how to manage quality and what it entails. It is important to remember that Quality is planned in from the very started, it is not inspected in after a product has been designed. Quality planning begins at the start of the project and should be concurrent with the planning processes. It is good practice to include the quality standards in the Project Charter.
We will review a few factors that will surely keep Quality present during the life of the Project.
#1: Quality Plan
A Quality Plan is essential and fundamental to achieve quality on a Project. Continuous Improvement is a philosophy is that small constant improvement to the processes will help improve the product or service. The overall project plan should include a plan for how the project manager and team will maintain quality standards throughout the project's cycle.
It is no secret that a majority of the Project Manager’s time is spent on communication. A lack of communication can become the reason a project fails. Any issues, especially with quality, should be communicated to the stakeholder(s).
In larger corporations, there may be a quality department or stakeholders that have an expertise in quality who can assist in setting the quality standards. In addition, it is essential to keep the stakeholder’s engaged. Keeping them updated on project progress and providing them with the appropriate amount of information will influence the project outcome.
#4: Quality Standards
During the Project Charter process, it is critical to identify how to measure quality. Defining the key deliverables and the expected outcomes will allow for the processes to be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. Prevention, which looks to keep the defects from occurring is preferred over inspection, which identifies and catches the errors.
There is always room for improvements. A good Project Manager will as part of their regular project tasks, will continually review the project progress, whether it is the budget, schedule, etc. Regular project reviews provide the opportunity for corrective action and help take preventive steps throughout the life of the Project.
When issues arise, action should be taken immediately. Leaving issues unresolved, can be a recipe for disaster.
There are many different tools and techniques to assist in planning and managing quality. Let us explore some of these tools:
- Data Gathering - is used to collect information from a variety of sources. In quality planning and managing, checklists are common to ensure all the steps were performed
- Data Representation – visualizing data can help provide a keen insight into problems related to quality. Affinity Diagrams, Cause-and-Effect Diagrams, Histograms, Flowcharts, etc.
- Design for X – this methodology is where design is applied to the top priorities. Organizations need to decide what is the most important or critical. In quality management, every component cannot take the top spot.
- Problem Solving – this is a popular approach where the problem is defined, there is an analysis to get to root cause of the problem and work to identify a possible solution.
Quality can be difficult to navigate and not providing the proper planning and focus can lead to project failure.
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