Quality management

"Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten"


Quality (or performance) forms the third corner of the time-cost-quality triangle which is the basis of project management.

A project may be completed on time and within the set budget, but if it does not meet the specified quality or performance criteria it wll at best attract criticism and at worst be considered a failure. Striking a balance between meeting the three essential criteria of time, cost and quality is one of the most onerous tasks of a project manager, but in practice usually one will be paramount. Where quality is synonymous with safety, as with aircraft or nuclear design, there is no question which point of the project management triangle is the most important. However, even if the choice is not so obvious, a failure in quality can be expensive, dangerous and can destroy an organization's reputation far quicker than it took to build up.

Quality management is therefore an essential part of project management and as with any other attribute, it does not just happen without a systematic approach. To ensure a quality product it has to be defined, planned, designed, specified, manufactured, constructed (or erected) and commissioned to an agreed set of standards which involve every department of the organization from top management to dispatch.

It is not possible to build quality into a product. If a product meets the specified performance criteria for a specified minimum time, it can be said to be a quality product. Whether the cost of achieving these criteria is high or low is immaterial, but to ensure that the criteria are met will almost certainly require additional expenditure. If these costs are then added to the normal production costs, a quality assured product will normally cost more than an equivalent one that has not gone through a quality control pocess.

Quality is an attitude of mind and to be most effective, every level of an organization should be involved and be committed to achieving the required performance standards by setting and operating procedures and systems which ensure this. It should permeate right through an organization from the board of directors down to the operatives on the shop floor.

Ideally everyone should be responsible for ensuring that his or her work meets the quality standards set down by management. To ensure that these standards are met, quality assurance requires checks and audits to be carried out on a regular basis.

However, producing a product which has not undergone a series of quality checks and tests and therefore not met customers' expectations could be very much more expensive, since there will be more returns of faulty goods and fewer returns of customers. In other words, quality assurance is good business. It is far better to get it right first time, every time, than to have a second attempt or carry out a repair.

To enable this consistency of performance to be obtained (and guaranteed) the quality assurance, control, review and audit procedures have to be carried out in an organised manner and the following functions and actions implemented:

1 The quality standards have been defined;

2 The quality requirements have been disseminated;

3 The correct equipment has been set up;

4 The staff and operatives have been trained;

5 The materials have been tested and checked for conformity;

6 Adequate control points have been set up;

7 The designated components have been checked at predetermined stages and intervals;

8 A feedback and rectification process has been set up;

9 Regular quality audits and reviews are carried out;

10 All these steps, which make up quality control, are enshrined in the quality manual together with the quality policy, quality plan and quality programme.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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