We all know that a good quality project is one in which the final outcome or deliverable meets the needs of the stakeholders and is “fit for purpose”. So a Quality Management Process aims to ensure the final deliverable does just that by focusing on quality throughout the project lifecycle; by incorporating it into the planning process and ensuring that what we think of as “good quality” is, in fact definable and measureable. If it cannot be defined then it cannot be measured and if it cannot be measured then how can anyone know that the project was of an acceptable quality?
Just as with any other part of a project a Quality Management Plan should be created as early as possible in the project lifecycle but will be modified throughout the lifecycle as it becomes clearer to all concerned what is required from the project.
Quality At All Times
Right from the earliest stages of the project we should be thinking about quality – it is not a final check or add-on to be done once the project is almost complete. A Quality Plan should cover all of the following as a minimum:
- Stakeholder expectations in terms of project quality.
- Defined Success criteria with acceptable tolerances.
- External and/or internal Standards to be adhered to.
- Who is responsible for ensuring quality on the project.
- How will quality be checked/tested and reviewed.
- How quality can be improved if it doesn’t meet the expected standards.
This part of the process is intended to provide reassurance that the project is meeting the expected definition of quality so, naturally, a quality review is an essential tool for doing this. It needs to measure the quality level against the definition of acceptable quality that was put in place at the start of the projects and, most likely, improved at stages during the lifecycle. As with so many parts of a project it is important to capture lessons learned so that future phases of a project do not make the same mistakes with respect to quality; and also so that opportunities can be identified where quality can be improved in a cost-effective way.
Quality Assurance is an ongoing process throughout the whole project lifecycle and is best managed via regular quality reviews and independent audits to ensure all tasks are being done in accordance with defined standards of quality.
Quality control s concerned with testing and measuring various aspects of a project to ensure project deliverables meet the pre-defined specification and the stakeholder’s requirements. Because projects vary so widely in type and complexity the forms of testing and measuring quality also vary widely depending on the nature of the project and milestone deliverables. Some projects are creating physical products which may need to be checked against industry standards; other projects may be improving a business process, which needs to be testing using a pilot process.
On many projects there will be the chance to improve aspects of quality – or if there aren’t there will be chances to improve the process so that future projects can benefit from the knowledge gleaned on the current project. By seeking to learn lessons from each project to benefit future projects a process of continuous quality improvement can be implemented within an organisation. Some of these may be part of existing industry standards such as ISO 9000, which is a set of international standards that can be applied to any industry and to projects of any size.