Quality Planning Concepts & Terminology

In project management, meeting every deadline and staying within budget is of no use at all if the output is of poor quality. That’s why putting together a quality management plan at the outset of a project is critical. Waiting until the end of the project to review quality means it is already too late to take the most effective steps to create output that meets or exceeds expectations. Instead, criteria should be defined in advance that will be used to:

  1. Determine what traits of the final product are really important from a quality standpoint
  2. Ensure that processes from the beginning through the end of the project promote excellence in these traits
  3. Outline and implement a monitoring program to ensure quality at each stage
  4. Develop protocols to correct any shortfalls in quality that are discovered

When a sound quality management plan is in place, everyone involved in the project benefits. The earlier a problem is identified and corrected, the more resources are conserved. This includes tangibles such as materials and payroll costs and intangibles such as team morale and stakeholder confidence.

Quality Can Never Be Assumed

Anticipating that everything will go as planned and that everyone understands the importance of double-checking their work isn’t a wise decision. Quality tends to take a hit when there is no accountability to an outside source. This is one reason to have a team or department whose only responsibility is to ensure that quality is maintained. The role of this sector of the project team should be clearly outlined and explained so employees do not feel they are being “spied on”.

While no one likes to have their mistakes pointed out, it’s much better to experience a temporary hiccup in the process than to have an entire project fail because of a preventable error. This fact should be communicated to team members to ensure they are all invested in maintaining quality. Individuals at each level should also be encouraged to report potential problems that may have been overlooked in the quality planning stage.

What’s the difference between QA and QC in Project Management?

Quality control and quality assurance are terms that are often used interchangeably in some industries. However, each term has a distinct meaning in the PMBOK guide.  Quality Assurance (QA) refers to the implementation of activities that are designed to ensure appropriate process protocols are followed to maintain quality. It involves tools such as audits and process analysis that are used to create a process improvement plan.

Quality Control (QC) is a QA input that focuses on monitoring and measuring project results. Knowledge of valid sampling techniques, statistical analysis, and flowchart creation is helpful in this discipline. QC should typically be performed throughout a project and the data fed back into the QA program. QC data is used to develop recommendations for improving the quality management plan. Information gathered during QC activities is often added to the lessons learned knowledge base for future reference.

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