In a rush to meet deadlines, quality is somehow sidelined. It’s the last thing on a team’s mind when deadlines are near, and tasks are pending.
What an irony – The most important thing is sometimes the most ignored in project management.
Quality is much more than merely a process.
It’s a mindset, a driver that decides the fate of projects.
While poor quality can put your business in a bad light, maintaining high quality in projects from the very beginning can result in flawless deliverables.
Dig into this blog to learn everything there is to know about project quality management.
Let’s not leave project success to chance. Let’s own its success right from the start by keeping our focus on project quality.
What Is Project Quality Management?
Project quality management is the process of managing and maintaining quality throughout a project. Unlike popular perception, quality does not indicate perfection. The truth is nothing can be perfect. We can just try to make things better than they were before.
Quality management in project management aims to meet the quality standards set by the higher management or external customers. The project activities have to be designed and executed, keeping the quality standards in mind.
Quality requirements can differ from project to project, depending on the teams involved and the expectations set. Project managers are usually responsible for the processes related to quality management. In other cases, it can be the responsibility of quality experts or quality assurance experts.
What Does “Quality” in “Project Quality Management” Mean?
A remarkable definition of project quality comes from Joseph Juran, a management theorist who worked in Japan in the 1950s. He defined quality as “fitness for intended use” or “meeting or exceeding customer expectations.”
In project quality management, the definition of quality is kept to what the stakeholder or customer expects from the project deliverables. Meeting the requirements mentioned in the beginning and the expectations set by the customers means you are maintaining the quality of the project at hand.
A Useful Fact: Quality is a relative parameter, not absolute. How? Quality is not exactly an attribute of a project, product, or service. There are various perspectives involved in defining quality – the customers’ perspectives, team’s perspectives, comparison of the project with other projects, and more. So, what’s acceptable for one client may not be for others.
Why Is Project Quality Management Important?
1. Earn and Maintain Customer Confidence
Have you eaten in a restaurant and got so delighted by the meal and services that you want to come back to the same place?
The scenario is totally relatable. We see examples like this all around, where people stay loyal to a vendor, retailer, or service provider, just because they are getting exactly what they want and sometimes more than what they expect.
Quality is at the core of such customer experiences.
Incorporating quality and maintaining it throughout the project management process is paramount to gain customers’ trust and confidence. It shows that your team members are working with all their might to achieve the quality standards they have put in place.
When customers know that your processes are high quality, there is no scope of confusion or blame games.
2. Reduce the Chances of Project Failure and Rework
One of the significant benefits of project quality management is that it minimizes the chances of project failure and rework since you follow the set procedures and guidelines from the very beginning.
Keeping a watch on a project’s quality helps you identify common problems repeatedly occurring along with their root cause. You can then take corrective actions on time to ensure that the project deliverables are free of errors and match the quality standards set by customers or internal teams.
3. Brings Consistent Improvement
Committing to project quality and making it a single, non-negotiable goal is vital to get the best out of your employees. When you work on a project, there are things that go well and things that can be done better.
Quality management across all stages of project management brings consistent improvement as you progress. It helps you improve in every project phase, evaluates what went right and what went wrong, and accordingly takes your next steps.
Keeping a constant check on the project’s quality brings the entire project, including the minor details, into focus. This helps your team give their best and achieve impeccable deliverables as the project reaches completion.
4. Reduces Time and Cost on Future Projects
Project quality management compels you to get things done in the best possible way, now and ever. You utilize the learning from a specific project (even if it was a failure) and implement it in future projects. This allows for continuous improvement. Over time, you’ll see a reduction in the errors and a significant improvement in the way projects are executed.
Fewer errors and more efficiency helps you reduce the cost of future projects and the time your team spends working on them.
What Are the Different Phases in Project Quality Management?
Project quality management comprises three phases- Quality Planning, Quality Assurance, and Quality Control.
Let us understand in detail what exactly happens in these different phases.
1. Quality Planning
The first phase of project quality management is planning. Projects started without planning are prone to catastrophic failure.
Have you heard of the adage – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”?
This holds true in terms of project quality management.
To create an effective quality plan, the goals need to be defined and clearly communicated by the project’s stakeholders. Based on the goals, assign the right tasks to the right teams, and state the quality requirements expected from the project members.
Read More: A Step By Step Guide To Project Planning
2. Quality Assurance
Once you have laid down the guidelines to meet the quality requirements, evaluate all activities to support quality standards until project completion. Quality assurance is an integral part of a project’s life cycle. This phase allows you to take corrective measures and necessary steps if things do not proceed as planned. Ensure that every task goes through stringent quality checks so that the ultimate deliverable comes out error-free.
When you come across quality standards being neglected, take timely steps to mend the issues and prevent them from happening in the future.
3. Quality Control
Quality control is the final phase of project quality management. In this phase, the project team or other designated team monitors the project activities to ensure that the deliverables meet the set expectations and standards defined in the first phase.
If the quality management process and the final deliverables are not in alignment with the quality expectations, necessary changes must be made to keep the project from failing.
Quality control in project management should ideally be done at every step of the project. Doing it, at last, makes no sense, as the deliverable is already ready by then. When Quality Control is implemented during the process, it gives you the chance to make improvements and adjustments right when they are required.
Let’s now dive in to understand what a project quality management plan entails.
What Is a Project Quality Management Plan?
A project quality plan describes the activities, methodologies, standards, and procedures required for achieving high-quality deliverables that meet the project goals and stakeholder expectations.
To be properly maintained and followed, the standards and procedures stated in the quality management plan should be practical. They should be reasonable enough for your team to follow them and achieve the desired quality results.
Here’s how a project quality management plan is created:
Step 1: Write down all the things that the customers want in the project. To get an in-depth understanding, get answers to questions like:
- What does project success mean to the team and the stakeholders?
- What are the mandatory areas of the project where quality should be given utmost importance?
- How would you measure project quality?
Also, keep in mind the unstated demands and requirements that are merely common sense.
Step 2: Create a quality checklist and inform your team about its importance.
Step 3: Assign tasks and delegate responsibilities to the team members. Track the team’s performance by checking how much time they spend on each project and task, the progress they’ve made so far, and more. (Best use a project management software for the same)
Step 4: Have a quality testing method to assess the quality at each step and ensure the project output is exactly as the client expects.
One of the biggest mistakes project managers make is believing that once there is a plan, it can’t be changed. While executing the project, if you discover a better way of doing things, do not hesitate to modify the plan.
Read More: Your 5 Step Guide to Create a Perfect Project Plan
Top Tools for Project Quality Control
There are some tools commonly used in quality management to identify pitfalls and make process improvements. Here are the seven tools that can help you assess the quality of your project and improve it when you still have time.
A flowchart is a graphical representation that consists of the different steps of a process or workflow in a sequence. The chart ideally shows the different decision points, activities, tasks, and the order of steps required to complete a particular goal. With a well-defined flowchart, you can visualize the steps and tasks carried out to complete a process.
A clear picture of every step of the process makes it easy for you to identify issues that you might encounter and come up with the right solutions on time.
In case one path or workflow doesn’t lead to the desired outcome, it is easy to make corrections, change the flow or eliminate unnecessary work steps to increase productivity and efficiency. That’s the beauty of flowcharts.
2. Pareto Diagram
A Pareto chart is a bar graph used majorly for problem-solving. The chart helps you prioritize and focus on the important issues facing project management. With a Pareto Chart, your team can utilize their energy and time better and be at their productive best at work.
When critical problems are prioritized, it gets easier to resolve them and take the project forward.
For example, suppose you receive a lot of customer complaints every day, and there is an internal project to categorize complaints and resolve them at the earliest.
Now, you can extract data about the tickets and the number of times they are generated. Categorize them and then use the data to get your Pareto Chart ready.
A Pareto Chart looks something like this:
When implemented correctly, a Pareto Diagram helps in the project quality management in the following ways:
- It gives you a visual representation of the inputs displayed in order of their importance.
- You can identify the most frequent complaints or defects.
- Enables teams to focus on the inputs that are responsible for the highest impact.
- Allows you to analyze the process and take course corrective actions on time.
A Checksheet is one of the most structured ways to assess inputs, processes and ensure project quality. In this method, you can gather qualitative as well as quantitative data, analyze it to the core, and come to smart conclusions about project quality.
With checksheets, you can capture the number of times a particular value (occurrence, event, defect, problem, etc.) appears in the process. Leverage this data to analyze the process and come up with timely solutions to ensure high-quality final deliverables.
This is how a checksheet looks like.
Here are some major reasons companies trust checksheets for project quality management:
- Helps you record data in a consistent manner.
- Allows you to capture essential descriptive and contextual information, which is often missed in other methods.
- Provides data to create Histogram and Pareto Chart.
- Enables you to detect issues as they occur.
4. Cause and Effect Diagram
A cause and effect diagram, often called a fishbone diagram is a very useful quality tool to identify possible causes of imperfections, defects, and failures. It is given this name because the diagram looks just like a fish’s skeleton. The problem or cause is displayed at the head of the fish. The causes are shown on the spine.
When you break down the causes of the problem in such a manner, it becomes easy to spot bottlenecks and identify the root causes that hinder teams from achieving optimum level of project quality.
5. Scatter Diagram
Scatter Diagram, also known as a scatter graph or correlation chart, is a simple quality check tool that helps you analyze relations between two variables or two sets of data points that represent causes and effects of a particular problem or event.
As simple they may look, scatter diagrams help you plan, control, and monitor various quality issues in projects.
An excellent example of a scatter diagram in project quality management would be analyzing the relationship between project risk management and budget. Such a scatter diagram can help you assess what is favorable for the project and what is not within the allocated budget.
6. Control chart
A control chart is used to analyze how stable or unstable a particular process is. It helps you monitor process performance and study how a process changes over time. You can use it to identify variations in data and take corrective actions when you find inconsistency in the chart.
As you can see, a control chart has an average, upper control limit, and lower control limit identified based on historical data or project requirements. It is mainly used to see if a repetitive process is producing results in an acceptable range.
Control charts play a vital role in refining the processes to bring desired outputs and keep quality control in check.
7. Gantt Charts
Modern project management tools offer Gantt Charts as a means to analyze the progress and quality of projects, tasks, and sub-tasks. A Gantt Chart provides a visual representation of all project activities from start to finish. There is a progress bar representing each activity, with its start and end dates, making it easy for you to assess its performance.
What more? Gantt Charts allow you to manage tasks, visualize the progress, and meet deadlines faster, with the least hassles.
Read More: What is a Gantt Chart & How to Use Gantt Charts for Project Planning
Quality Management: Indispensable for Project Success
Now that you have understood how to define the project requirements and quality criteria, you must stick to them diligently throughout the project.
Have a project blueprint created after a thorough discussion with the clients or internal stakeholders. Sit with your project team, and develop a practical approach to manage quality as per the processes and standards defined in the blueprint.
You can use project management software to plan and execute projects efficiently while ensuring quality and controlling results. The tool helps delegate tasks and monitor how well the team follows the plan to meet the customers’ quality expectations.
Q1: What techniques are used for project quality management?
Tools like Gantt Charts, flow charts, Pareto Chart, Checksheets, and many more are quite helpful in analyzing the quality of projects and tasks and taking corrective actions on time. You can use them to identify project flaws, existing gaps, or possible problems that the project might encounter.
Leverage this data to make informed decisions on time and ensure top-notch project quality management.
Q2: How do you create a project quality plan?
Start by identifying the quality expectations of the stakeholders. Once you know the quality expectations, create a quality checklist and share it with your team. Assign tasks and delegate responsibilities to the right team members. Don’t forget to incorporate a quality testing method to keep a check on project quality.
Q3: What are the main characteristics of project quality management?
The main characteristics of project quality management are:
- Single, definable outcome or result
- Project planning and monitoring
- Quality assurance and quality control
- Risk avoidance and management
- Reliability and consistency
Q4: What are the quality requirements in project management?
Quality requirements in project management are the standards or expectations set by the client or internal stakeholders. Such requirements are defined in the beginning to allow teams to create a project plan that shows them the right path to achieve the expected quality goals.
The quality criteria help teams monitor the quality of all activities throughout the project lifecycle and produce the finest deliverable possible.
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