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Quality in Project Management
Whenever a project is conducted, there are high expectations that it will not only be a success and finish on time, but also the quality is of the finest grade. It is described in terms of inferiority or superiority depending on what the conditions are, and is a challenge that every project team faces. If, after all the hard work put into the project, the quality suffers, all is in vain. Quality is the determining factor of the ultimate satisfaction that all stakeholders, especially customers experience.
There are many definitions for quality in project management. According to one definition, it means zero defects. According to Philip B. Crosby, it means "Conformance to requirements." According to Joseph M. Juran, quality means "Fitness for use," and according to Six Sigma, quality is "the number of defects per million opportunities."
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Total Quality Management Practices
An overview of TQM quality management practices highlights the different approaches or practices followed to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction in a product or service. It involves all stakeholders and stresses on the importance of work responsibility from every member.
Total Quality Management is
- led by top management
- involves all departments and members
- a continuous process
- Customer satisfaction
- Collective responsibility
According to an analysis of TQM quality concepts, the customer comes first and is of the highest priority. It is the desire for utmost customer satisfaction that drives a company, organization or firm to work towards quality. When TQM is integrated as part of the work ethics, it becomes a 'way of life' for the organization as a whole irrespective of the work being part of an operation or a project. Some practices of TQM are discussed below.
Continuous improvement process (CIP): When TQM is the principle rule at work, there is an awareness of customer satisfaction or a consciousness that quality work has to be done. It does not become a one-time phase but an ongoing, continuous practice right from start to finish. The way things are done, or in other words the 'process quality' is what forms the basis for 'product quality'.
Zero Defects: Zero Defects means that the product or service should not have any defects or tends towards 'nil'. In other words, it indicates that when a product or service is created it should be of the most superior quality. According to Philip B. Crosby, there should be no tolerance for error. It follows the principle of 'doing it right the very first time'.
Six Sigma: It is a method of calculating measurable improvements or defects in a product. It is defined in terms of 'the number of defects per million opportunities' and was made popular by Motorola. Members who become proficient in Six Sigma attain any one of the four Six Sigma Belts. According to Six Sigma, if sigma doesn't need more work, it means making your work mean more.
PDCA cycle: The PDCA cycle simply put, is Plan - Do- Check - Act. It means that when a product is undertaken, there should first be a plan which is then implemented (Do). Once the implementation of the plan is complete, it should be 'checked' for defects. When defects are found, the team has to act on it, by planning again and carrying on the process till zero defects are achieved.
This overview of TQM Management practices will give you an idea of the importance and impact of quality in any product or service. It starts from the very first step and is monitored along every phase to deliver a product or service that conforms totally to customer expectations.