Project Management/PMBOK/Quality Management
When gathering requirements for a project, a manager needs to go beyond specifying what is being developed (scope) and when it will be delivered (time). They also need to plan quality measures into each deliverable, which contributes towards the end product or service. One can think of quality management as answering the "how" part of problem solving. In the planning process, a project manager assesses product/service specifications and arrives at S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) quality criteria for each deliverable. These plans are executed throughout the project lifecycle (via testing, inspections, walkthroughs etc.). As the project manager controls and monitors the project, they may modify and correct product/service specifications and plans to achieve better quality. Lastly, the project manager conducts an audit of product/service quality as the project reaches closure. A key concern of the project manager at this stage is to have stakeholders formally accept the final product/service through achieving a sign-off document. If quality planning and execution are done properly within a project, it makes the end-product more appealing to stakeholders.
Quality planning involves identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them. It is important to perform quality planning during the Planning Process and should be done alongside the other project planning processes (i.e. Time Planning, Risk Planning, etc.) because changes in the quality will likely require changes in the other planning processes, or the desired product quality may require a detailed risk analysis of an identified problem. It is important to remember that quality should be planned, designed, then built in, not added on after the fact.
- Enterprise Environmental Factors
Factors which are related to the type of business the project is being produced for can have an effect on its quality. Such factors include government or industry standards, marketplace conditions and stakeholder risk tolerances.
- Organizational Process Assets
Organization Process Assets (or "OPAs") are inputs which come from the organization(s) producing the project. They include quality policies, procedures and guidelines, historical databases and lessons learned from previous projects. An organization's quality policy may be adapted to a particular project, or used "as is." If no quality policy exists, or if more than one organization is working on the project, the project management team needs to develop one. The project management team is also responsible for making sure the stakeholders are aware of quality policy.
- Project Scope Statement
The project scope statement details the deliverables, objectives, thresholds and acceptance criteria that the project must meet. This makes it very important to quality planning.
Acceptance criteria describe the requirements and conditions that must be achieved before deliverables will be accepted. If the deliverables satisfy the acceptance criteria, then the result is the customer's needs being met. The acceptance criteria can drastically increase or decrease the costs of project quality. In addition, the product scope statement may contain a scope description which contains issues that may affect quality planning.
Tools and Techniques
- Cost-Benefit Analysis
During the quality planning process it is important to consider cost-benefits trade-offs. The key benefit of meeting sufficient quality requirements is that it results in less rework, which in turn results in higher productivity, lower costs, and greater satisfaction from the stakeholder. The main cost of achieving such quality requirements is the expense that comes with activities relating to Project Quality Management.
The process of benchmarking compares planned or existing project practices to the practices set in place for other projects in order to generate ideas as to which areas of the project could be improved upon. Furthermore, it is also used to provide a basis for measuring overall performance. The projects used for comparison can be from within the performing organization or from a source outside of it, and do not necessarily have to be from within the same application area to be used.
- Design of Experiments (DOE)
Design of Experiments (DOE) is a method used to identify factors which may influence certain aspects of a product or process during the time it is under development or in production. It also holds a key role in the process of optimizing products/processes. An organization would use DOE to reduce the sensitivity of product performance to factors caused by differences in manufacturing or the environment. The main benefit of DOE is that it provides the organization with a framework to systematically change all of the important factors associated with a project, rather than changing them one at a time. By analyzing the data obtained, an organization can find the optimal conditions for their product/process, with a focus on factors influencing the results, and showing the existence of correlations and interactions within the factors.
- Cost of Quality (COQ)
Quality costs are the total of all costs incurred in preventing non-conformance to established project/process requirements, appraising the product for conformance to requirements, and any rework necessitated by a failure to meet requirements. Failure costs are divided into internal and external costs. Failure costs are also known as cost of poor quality.
- Additional Quality Planning Tools
Additional quality planning tools are often used to better define the situation and assist in planning effective and efficient quality management activities. These include brainstorming, affinity diagrams, nominal group techniques, matrix diagrams, flowcharts, and prioritization matrices.
By keeping the benchmarks for required levels of quality in mind, such as Enterprise Environmental Factors and Organizational Process Assets, projects will be much more likely to satisfy end-user requirements. In addition, by utilizing the tools listed above, the costs incurred for assuring quality can be minimized, while ensuring project success.
While all PMBOK areas are an important part of a project, quality controls are what shape the final product. By holding the project itself to high standards of quality, that project will produce results of similar worth.