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Quality management – part 1 - Plan - Overview

Not easy to measure

Quality can be subjective and hard to measure.
It is clearly critical that the customer gets exactly what they are asking for.
The only way this will happen is if the requirements are accurately defined in measurable terms.

Methods of measuring quality may be quite varied even within the same industry.
Hence, all methods must be agreed and clear.
There should be no ambiguity from any quality measurements.

Need a clear specification for the final product

What aspects of the product are you measuring?
Quality includes the performance of the product as well as technical specifications.
These may include, reliability, durability, accuracy, clarity, functionality and physical characteristics.

Clearly, product specification and performance attributes should be agreed at the start of the project and documented within the Project Notebook.
However, there is no point in specifying some aspect of quality if it can’t be measured.
For example, just saying that a report should have ‘appropriate level of detail’ is no good.
Everyone should agree on the format, sections covered and depth.
A 200 page report is of little use if 20 pages would be adequate.

In terms of the final product there should be adequate discussion with the customer to agree specifications, tolerances and the methods of measurement.
Tolerances are extremely important as they will form the backbone of raising any issues.
Clearly, monitoring procedures should pick up any likelihood of tolerances being exceeded and actions taken.

Apart from the final product there will be many others throughout the project that will need consideration.

Where quality factors are defined these should be measurable

All parts of the specification should be capable of measurement.
If not, it will not be possible to exhibit the required level of control.

For chemical products these may be, for example, by-product impurities

Quality must be part of the process from the outset

Make sure that a quality system is in place from the start.
A quality plan, that describes the process and methods will help.

Need a quality plan

The best way to do this is to devise a quality plan.
How a company approaches quality can enhance its reputation.
There should be a quality plan, so that all involved know the processes that are expected.

Quality is often a specialist area and should be the domain of a specialist independent group, such as, quality control.
They would be responsible for the systems, procedures and testing needs.

Quality must be part of the process and not just used to measure success or failure at the end.
Otherwise, how would you know where a possible problem had occurred?
With no control measures the likelihood of a repeated failure would be quite high.
Interim control measures must be put in place.

If there is a failure in quality it may have a very serious effect on many areas of the project, other than the project products

For example:

  • Potential risk of injury to people
  • Damage to property or the environment
  • The project plan or schedule
  • Possible financial loss
  • Loss of reputation or credibility

Under PRINCE2® 2009 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] the Quality Management Strategy could incorporate many aspects of the Quality Plan discussed above.
The Quality Management Strategy is prepared during the Initiating a Project process and approved subsequently by the Project Board.

It augments the project approach and can be regarded as the project management team’s proposals in response to the customer’s quality expectations and acceptance criteria.

The Quality Management Strategy describes how the quality management systems of the participating organizations will be applied to the project and confirms any quality standards, procedures, techniques and tools that will be used.
Where models and standards are to be tailored, the tailoring should also be outlined in the Quality Management Strategy for approval.
[see Quality - The PRINCE2 approach - Quality planning - The Quality Management Strategy]

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.