Quality Management Concepts

The project manager has the ultimate responsibility for quality management on the project. Quality management has equal priority with cost and schedule management. However, the direct measurement of quality may be the responsibility of the quality assurance department or the assistant project manager for quality. For a labor-intensive project, management support (i.e., the project office) is typically 12-15 percent of the total labor dollars of the project. Approximately 3-5 percent can be attributed to quality management. Therefore, as much as 20-30 percent of all the labor in the project office could easily be attributed to quality management.

From a project manager's perspective, there are six quality management concepts that should exist to support each and every project. They include:

• Quality policy

• Quality objectives

• Quality assurance

• Quality control

• Quality audit

• Quality program plan

Ideally, these six concepts should be embedded within the corporate culture.

Quality Policy The quality policy is a document that is typically created by quality ex perts and fully supported by top management. The policy should state the quality objectives, the level of quality acceptable to the organization, and the responsibility of the organization's members for executing the policy and ensuring quality. A quality policy would also include statements by top management pledging its support to the policy. The quality policy is instrumental in creating the organization's reputation and quality image.

Many organizations successfully complete a good quality policy but immediately submarine the good intentions of the policy by delegating the implementation of the policy to lower-level managers. The implementation of the quality policy is the responsibility of top management. Top management must "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk." Employees will soon see through the ruse of a quality policy that is delegated to middle managers while top executives move onto "more crucial matters that really impact the bottom line."

A good quality policy will:

• Be a statement of principles stating what, not how

• Promote consistency throughout the organization and across projects

• Provide an explanation to outsiders of how the organization views quality

• Provide specific guidelines for important quality matters

• Provide provisions for changing/updating the policy

Quality Objectives Quality objectives are a part of an organization's quality policy and consist of specific objectives and the time frame for completing them. The quality objectives must be selected carefully. Selecting objectives that are not naturally possible can cause frustration and disillusionment. Examples of acceptable quality objectives might be: to train all members of the organization on the quality policy and objectives before the end of the current fiscal year, to set up baseline measurements of specific processes by the end of the current quarter, to define the responsibility and authority for meeting the organization's quality objectives down to each member of the organization by the end of the current fiscal year, etc.

Good quality objectives should:

• Be obtainable

• Define specific goals

• Be understandable

• State specific deadlines

Quality Assurance Quality assurance is the collective term for the formal activities and managerial processes that attempt to ensure that products and services meet the required quality level. Quality assurance also includes efforts external to these processes that provide information for improving the internal processes. It is the quality assurance function that attempts to ensure that the project scope, cost, and time functions are fully integrated.

The Project Management Institute Guide to the Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® refers to quality assurance as the management section of quality management. This is the area where the project manager can have the greatest impact on the quality of his project. The project manager needs to establish the administrative processes and procedures necessary to ensure and, often, prove that the scope statement conforms to the actual requirements of the customer. The project manager must work with his team to determine which processes they will use to ensure that all stakeholders have confidence that the quality activities will be properly performed. All relevant legal and regulatory requirements must also be met.

A good quality assurance system will:

• Identify objectives and standards

• Be multifunctional and prevention oriented

• Plan for collection and use of data in a cycle of continuous improvement

• Plan for the establishment and maintenance of performance measures

• Include quality audits

Quality Control Quality control is a collective term for activities and techniques, within the process, that are intended to create specific quality characteristics. Such activities include continually monitoring processes, identifying and eliminating problem causes, use of statistical process control to reduce the variability and to increase the efficiency of processes. Quality control certifies that the organization's quality objectives are being met.

The PMBOK® refers to quality control as the technical aspect of quality management. Project team members who have specific technical expertise on the various aspects of the project play an active role in quality control. They set up the technical processes and procedures that ensure that each step of the project provides a quality output from design and development through implementation and maintenance. Each step's output must conform to the overall quality standards and quality plans, thus ensuring that quality is achieved.

A good quality control system will:

• Select what to control

• Set standards that provide the basis for decisions regarding possible corrective action

• Establish the measurement methods used

• Compare the actual results to the quality standards

• Act to bring nonconforming processes and material back to the standard based on the information collected

• Monitor and calibrate measuring devices

• Include detailed documentation for all processes

Quality Audit A quality audit is an independent evaluation performed by qualified personnel that ensures that the project is conforming to the project's quality requirements and is following the established quality procedures and policies. A good quality audit will ensure that:

• The planned quality for the project will be met.

• The products are safe and fit for use.

• All pertinent laws and regulations are followed.

• Data collection and distribution systems are accurate and adequate.

• Proper corrective action is taken when required.

• Improvement opportunities are identified.

Quality Plan The quality plan is created by the project manager and project team members by breaking down the project objectives into a work breakdown structure. Using a treelike diagramming technique, the project activities are broken down into lower-level activities until specific quality actions can be identified. The project manager then ensures that these actions are documented and implemented in the sequence that will meet the customer's requirements and expectations. This enables the project manager to assure the customer that he has a road map to delivering a quality product or service and therefore will satisfy the customer's needs.

A good quality plan will:

• Identify all of the organization's external and internal customers

• Cause the design of a process that produces the features desired by the customer

• Bring in suppliers early in the process

• Cause the organization to be responsive to changing customer needs

• Prove that the process is working and that quality goals are being met

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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