What Is Project Quality Management

The role quality assurance plays in project management cannot be undermined. You can build the best project management team or achieve miraculous feats such as delivering projects before time or within the agreed budget, but if your project quality is not up-to-the-mark, all that effort will be in vain.

Think of it like this—you have three-hatted chefs working at your restaurant and you've recently upgraded the interiors, but if your food quality is poor and mostly, inedible, be rest assured that customers will forever look the other way. In this guide, we will look at the instrumental role quality plays in driving results-oriented project management and keeping your team members productive. Let's jump right in.

What is Project Quality Management? A Beginner's Perspective

Quite simply, project quality management is the process of managing quality consistency and includes activities that help maintain quality control within a project. The term 'quality' can have varied meanings, depending on what the customer or stakeholder requires from the project. Oftentimes, project managers refer to the corporate policies or organizational values to get a headstart and define quality needs. As per the book, "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)," quality is defined as:

"The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.”

To narrow it down further, "quality" typically comprises of five key elements:

1. Validation: It provides assurance that the product or service is delivering on the agreed-upon requirements.

2. Verification: It ensures that the project quality is in compliance with requirements.

3. Precision: It refers to repeatable measures that deliver consistent results with respect to project/product quality.

4. Accuracy: It represents the closeness, a.k.a., the correctness of the project quality to the end-goal.

5. Tolerance: It refers to a range of acceptable results that can be classified as "high quality."

The learning: The meaning of 'quality' can differ from project-to-project, depending on what your end-user wants. Hence, it is important that project managers get their bases covered by highlighting 'exactly' what the end-user means when they say they want a quality product or service.

Moving on, let's look at the defining concepts that ensure the quality of a project.

What are the Top-3 Concepts of Project Quality Management?

In order for project managers to keep track of the project quality, they need to monitor a quality management plan. This plan basically acts as a blueprint, outlining policies and procedures that clearly define who is responsible for what, what kind of 'quality' is expected at the end of a project, and reviews whether quality compliance has been achieved or not.

To help achieve the aforementioned benchmarks, project managers can consider the following three concepts to be their North Star:

  1. Customer Satisfaction: This concept highlights the importance of managing people and processes to ensure high project quality, and by extension, customer satisfaction. In other words, quality leads to customer satisfaction. Project managers need to continuously interact with the customer/stakeholder to convey expectations and progress while gathering real-time and honest feedback.  
  2. Cost of Quality: This concept refers to the money that's spent both during and after the project to eliminate bottlenecks and fix issues. Typically, there are two types of Cost of Quality components:

A. Cost of Conformance: Simply put, this is also known as preventive costs incurred in a project such as training, documentation, equipment purchase, testing and inspection, and so on.

B. Cost of Nonconformance: It signifies internal failure costs such as reworking on certain aspects of a project, liabilities, lost business, etc.

C. Continuous Improvement: By now, it must be abundantly clear that quality project management is not a one-time investment or effort. It entails the continuous improvement of the end product or service at all times. Proactive project managers are able to identify opportunities for change, document the issues, take corrective actions, and extract valuable insights to prevent repeating the same mistakes.

It's time to look at how the steps you can take to implement a quality management process that embodies speed, reliability, and accuracy. Keep reading.

What are the Quality Management Processes, Tools, and Techniques Worth Knowing?

Step 1: Kickstart the Project on the Right Foot with Quality Management Planning

  • Identify the quality and standards for the project and product that's required by your customer/stakeholder to lay a rock-solid foundation for project success. In other words, set the quality targets your team members need to meet.
  • Understand how the project should be managed, what tasks you should assign, how your team will implement the quality policy, and the process you'll undertake to manage project quality. 
  • Brainstorm on how you will document the information, what kind of resources you will need, and think about the additional activities you will need to undertake to carry forward the quality plan. For instance, think about whether you'll need to drive periodic meetings, sending daily updates via mails, etc.
  • Zero in on the kind of metrics and measures you will use to review project quality and report on them.
  • Draft an in-depth and clear quality checklist that outlines scores you need to get to ensure high quality.
  • Share the goals with all stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Step 2: Deep-Dive into Quality Assurance 

  • Think about the kind of planned and systemic activities you will execute to fulfill the quality requirements of your product or service.
  • Brainstorm on how you will audit the quality requirements and quality control results.
  • Take the help of quality assurance to ensure that your processes are in sync with the project's agreed end-goals. 
  • Outline the necessary steps and corrective actions you will need to take in case your project fails to meet the quality benchmark.

Step 3: Engage in Active Quality Control

  • Make sure to factor in how you will be monitoring and recording the results of quality activities to gauge performance. You can drive peer reviews and testing to ensure that the project quality requirements are being met on a consistent basis. You can also use a process checklist or a project audit to drive effective auditing of project progress.
  • Check the quality of deliverables throughout the project management process and make real-time iterations for optimized results.

The learning: Throughout the quality management process, the central idea is to readjust in real-time than redo the entire project and waste valuable resources, time, effort, and of course, money.

The Bottom Line

Contrary to popular opinion, ensuring quality in a project is not about achieving a certain degree of 'perfection' and calling it a day. Nor is it about giving the customers more (or less) than what was agreed upon before the project began.

It is about project managers seamlessly and effortlessly balancing the objective of attaining the desired quality assigned to a project before it takes off the ground. With project quality management, the end-goal is to ensure that the project quality expectations are met at all times, during the lifecycle of a project, and even after the project is complete. It also includes making updates to the project management plan so that the information is not outdated. This ensures that everyone works in a consistent, informed, and value-driven capacity. Thoughts?