When you’re managing a project, the Triple Constraint is always foremost in your head. How can you control the scope, schedule and cost of the project?
But there is a fourth concern that is just as important and is sometimes forgotten in the maelstrom of project management, and that is quality.
It doesn’t matter if you got the best project management tools, met every milestone and completed the project under budget if the deliverable didn’t meet quality standards. That’s why project quality management is so important.
What Is Project Quality Management?
Project quality management encompasses the processes and activities that are used to figure out and achieve the quality of the deliverables of a project. However, quality can be an elusive word.
What is quality? While we could go on forever about the “true” meaning of quality and use the Socratic method to dialogue on its many possible meanings, for project management the answer is more defined.
Quality is simply what the customer or stakeholder needs from the project deliverables. By keeping the definition tied to the customer or stakeholder, quality management can have a narrower focus, which means it’s more likely to achieve its goals.
Project Quality Management Concepts
Project managers oversee implementing a project quality management plan. The main idea, again, to deliver a product or service to the specifications of the customer or stakeholder. Doing so requires knowing quality management concepts.
Without customer satisfaction there can be no quality. Even if a deliverable meets all aspects of what the customer or stakeholder has required but is done so where the process itself was not to satisfactory, then there’s a problem.
Of course, the deliverable must meet with agreed upon requirements or else the project has failed because the product of the project and the management of the project didn’t meet with the expectations of the customer or stakeholder.
Related: What is Stakeholder Theory?
That’s why implementing quality control means managing both process and people. Meet with your customer or stakeholder regularly to keep them abreast of the project’s progress. Get their feedback and make sure that you’re being fully transparent with them to avoid issues arising later.
Prevention Over Inspection
Quality doesn’t come free. The Cost of Quality (COQ) is the money spent dealing with issues during the project, and then after the project, to fix any failures. These are broken up into two categories: cost of conformance and cost of nonconformance.
The cost of conformance can be considered a preventive cost. These costs are primarily related to training, the documentation process, equipment needed, and the time required to get the quality done right. Other costs related to this can include testing, destructive testing loss and inspections.
The cost of nonconformance refers to internal failure costs. These consist of having to rework something or even scrap it entirely. Further costs can come from liabilities, warranty work and lost business.
This concept of quality project management can be found in Six Sigma and Total Quality Management (TQM) and is featured dominantly in the Prevention Over Inspection concept.
This concept is, as explained in its title, an ongoing effort to address improvements of the deliverables over time. Whether through small, incremental changes or through large ones, the opportunity to identify and address change is always present.
Applying this concept also means constantly monitoring and documenting any issues that come up, so you can then use the lessons learned when managing future projects. This way, you run a more efficient project and likely won’t repeat mistakes.
How to Implement Quality Project Management
Once you have an idea of the different concepts, the next step is to implement a project quality management plan. To do so, follow these three steps.
First identify the requirements for the quality of the deliverable and how the project needs to be managed. Agree on how this process will be documented and how that information will be delivered. Will you have regular meetings, emails, etc.?
The plan will include these specifics as well as metrics for measuring the quality while managing the project. This should include a quality checklist to collect and organize the marks you need to hit during the project.
Quality assurance, according to the American Society for Quality (ASQ) is “the planned and systemic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements for a product or service will be fulfilled.”
Use quality assurance to make sure your processes are in fact working towards making the project deliverables meet quality requirements. Two ways to accomplish this is by using a process checklist and a project audit.
Every process needs a policeman, so to speak, to make sure that the rules are being following and that the expected quality is being met. Some ways to ensure that the required quality of the deliverables is being achieved is through peer reviews and testing.
It’s essential to check the quality of the deliverables during the project management process in order to adjust the deliverables if they’re not meeting the standards that have been set. This can be done at the end of the project, but it’s not as efficient to redo rather than to readjust.
The Process of Project Quality Management
Managing the process of project quality involves many things, such as setting quality targets for your team to meet, defining how to measure those quality targets and reporting on them. Project management tools can prove helpful with this.
Most project management software comes with a dashboard, which is one screen where you can view the metrics of every aspect of the project. The data is usually shown in easy-to-read charts and graphs, which can then be shared or printed out for presentations.
With a cloud-based project management tool, the dashboard becomes even more of an asset, in that now it is being fed data in real-time and thus provides the most accurate measurement for the project’s progress. This makes responding to issues timelier, and it becomes less likely such issues will develop further into problems that can sidetrack the project.
Online Gantt charts make scheduling the monitoring and tasks related to quality management simple. Most software allows you to upload a task list or spreadsheet, which is then instantly populated on a timeline. All you need to do is add the duration of each task and assign it.
This tool can also provide a great collaborative platform for your team. Each task is usually able to link to supporting documents, images and other files, as well as offering a dialogue where team members can talk about the task and resolve any issues that arise.
Instead of having to micromanage everything, by giving teams the autonomy to collaborate, they’ll catch the issue first. They’re the ones on the frontline of the project, after all. They can then respond, or report back to you. Either way, the quality of the deliverable can be addressed before it moves too far away from its intended target.
Quality is important in any project, and to ensure quality, the right tools are needed to monitor the quality management. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software with a real-time dashboard and an online Gantt chart that make monitoring and reporting on quality easy. See for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.