Project Quality Management in PMBOK

November 19, 2009
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One of the first things one needs to remember about quality of a project or product is that in can only be obtained by conscious design. Thus like any other feature or deliverable it needs to be carefully managed such that the quality level is as designed. A complementary part of that statement is that you cannot inspect quality in. Unless the quality is in there by design, however much inspection is done, the quality levels will be impossible to achieve.

Theoretical Foundation of Quality Management

There are several well known experts who contributed to the development of the quality management principles. Joseph M Juran contributed to the quality discipline through his focus on cross functional management processes of quality management quality planning, quality control and quality improvement. He succeeded in bringing complete attention to the Pareto Principle that says one needs to concentrate on the 20% of root causes that create 80% of the quality problems. Juran was successful in creating the awareness that the human dimension is important and had always focused on training top management on quality. He was sure that unless these stakeholders drove the processes, quality management would not get done properly. These initiatives have to be owned by the top stakeholders.

W Edwards Deming contributes in areas of statistical control, sampling etc. He too subscribed to the theory that management has to be educated in quality principles and drive the quality management. His main plank was that as quality improves, costs reduce through less rework, wastage etc. Customer satisfaction rises and support costs decline. Net result is that your market share improves. The PDCA or the plan-do-check-act cycle of Shewhart was popularized by Deming as a basic philosophy of quality management.

Phillip B Crosby was the proponent of the “doing it right the first time” or “zero defects” principle. The savings one gets through improvement of quality more than pays for the cost of quality. The cost of quality is the cost of managing for quality overall. The four principles supporting that philosophy are “the definition of quality is conformance to requirements”, “the system of quality is prevention”, “the performance standard is zero defects” and “the measurement of quality is the price of non-conformance”.

Armand V Feigenbaum, Dr. James Harrington, Ishikawa, Shewhart, Shingo, and Taguchi are some other major figures who contributed to the quality movement and have major tool/ theories/ processes to their credit. For example Feigenbaum is credited with statistical techniques and the book “Total quality control”. Harrington contributed to process improvement techniques and has several seminal books published. Ishikawa is most well known for his “fish bone diagram” or the cause and effect diagram but he was one of the pioneers of quality circle movement too. “Guide to quality control” and ”What is total quality control” are two extremely valuable books by him. Shewhart is credited with explaining process variability with statistics. Control chart popularity was born out of this foundation. Shingo is well known for his “just in time” manufacturing theory that is the basis of Toyota Production System. Taguchi contributed to robust design that leads to quality manufacturing.

The Process Presented in PMBOK

The process described in the PMBOK takes into consideration a whole range of processes defined by these gurus as well as other non-proprietary processes that have evolved over time. These include TQM or the total quality management, Six Sigma, FMEA or the failure mode and effects analysis, design reviews, voice of the customer and COQ or the cost of quality and continuous improvement. The common theme that runs through these processes are customer satisfaction needs to be taken care of, prevention over inspection or the principle that if you cannot make a mistake in producing a product, there would not be any quality problem; continuous improvement or the fact that if you keep improving then all the defects will go out of the system and management responsibility or the fact that the quality initiatives are to be driven my top stakeholders.

The project quality management is three pronged. You have to plan quality. The second pillar quality management is based on is doing quality assurance and the third aspect of the plan is to do quality control. In the quality planning stage you look at the scope baseline and the stakeholder register. Cost performance and schedule baselines, risks, environmental factors and the organizational process assets are taken into account to create the quality management plan, metrics and checklists, quality improvement plan and project document updates. Use the tools as necessary from the theoretical arsenal available so far, specifically benchmarks, design of experiments, control charts, statistical sampling techniques and anything unique to your organization and tools that apply in your context.

Quality assurance is done periodically to assure that the right quality is being built into the project/product being worked on. Quality control process involves analyzing any deviations, determining the cause and preventing them from happening again.

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  1. [...] “Project Quality Management in PMBOK – Puneet Kuthiala“ CAPM, PMBOK 4th Edition, PMP, PgMPCAPM, PMBOK, PMP, Quality Management [...]

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