A Project Manager's Guide to Improving Project Quality.

A Project Manager's Guide to Improving Project Quality.
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What is Quality?

Most management professionals are aware of Motorola and its impact upon the world of management; more specifically, project management. In the 1950s, quality was just a tool to sort out the good products from the bad.

While the product served the required function, the level of excellence with regards to its performance was hardly taken care of. Motorola was one of a few companies that paved the way to setting standards of excellence in a product; today defined as ‘quality’.

In project management terms, quality is the level of excellence; the meeting, and compliance of specifications. It also implies total satisfaction on the part of the customer, which is brought about as a result of ‘zero defects’ in the product or service. From a customer point-of-view, quality means ‘getting your money’s worth’.

Hence, it can be seen that quality has many aspects and faces, that keeping up with quality becomes inevitable and a necessity for every project. In today’s day and age, the defining of quality has become more and more specific,in that there are standard guides to improving project quality. Here we take you through the main aspects of quality in a project and how it can be improved upon so as to move towards zero defects.

Project Planning and Quality

Defining and outlining quality is a part of the project planning phase. The specifications and outlines for the required quality standards are set forth during this phase where each following phase will have to comply with the outlined specifications.

Quality and Triple Constraints

Quality is influenced by and in turn influences the triple constraints of a project; namely, scope, cost and time. With quality planned at the start, time and costs should be efficiently managed. It should be done in such as way that the quality of the product is at its best, and does not require rework, repairs or replacements by the customer.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is the area of project quality management where the assurance of the quality or confidence can be placed in a project’s quality. It is directly dependent on the team members and team performance. Quality assurance assures that risks are minimized considerably and that adequate importance is given to the post quality planning phase. It is the actual action part of the planning.

Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management is a management process to manage the entire project in view of its excellence. It takes into account all divisions, aspects and areas of quality in its totality to bring about conformance to quality specifications. This process, which consists of TQM, Continuous Improvement, PDCA Cycles, and Six Sigma, is covered in the next few sections.

Continuous Improvement

It is only by the process of continuous improvement that products and services have evolved over the years. What seemed trendy at one point in time has now evolved to more sophisticated and advanced technological levels, all because of the continuous improvement process. An apt example can be seen with cellular devices. Look at the following articles, which enhance this guide to improving project quality.

PDCA Cycle

The PDCA cycle is part of the continuous improvement process. In this, the processes of Plan, Do (action), Check and Act are carried on over and over, until a zero defect status is achieved. Since it is cyclic, it is called the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle or simply the PDCA Cycle.

Six Sigma

When quality has been defined and specifications outlined, it only stands to reason that there has to be some method of calculating the ‘level’ of quality. Assigning a score in numerical values and percentages are ideal ways for understanding the improvements or lack of improvements in a product’s quality. This is where Six Sigma has a major role to play.

Quality Control

Quality control is the process of monitoring the quality processes and appraising or correcting the results of the quality management processes. Quality control comprises of audits and documentation that monitors the compliance of the product to the pre-determined specifications. It is a process that is done during the control phase along with scope control, cost control, etc.

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