Modern quality management focuses on customer satisfaction, which is generally defined as conformance to requirements and fitness for use. In other words, the product, process, and project meet the requirements, and the end result is used and useful.
When talking about a product satisfaction, the focus is on the customer, however, when talking about project satisfaction you will need to take into consideration the project team, the sponsor, vendors, regulatory entities, and other project specific stakeholders.
So when discussing project quality management, it is best to focus on stakeholder satisfaction.
It is important that all stakeholders are satisfied, not just the customer. So you can see that quality management is very integrated with collecting requirements and identifying stakeholders.
Another fundamental concept is the quality should be planned, designed, and built in, rather than inspected in. A project is generally less expensive if you go into it preventing mistakes from happening rather than correcting those mistakes later on in the project lifecycle.
Part of quality management is continuous improvement and this also goes for product and project quality. The underlying basis for quality improvement is the plan-do-check-act cycle:
Plan. Established the objectives and processes necessary to deliver expected results
Do. Implement the processes
Check. Measure the new processes and compare the results against the expected results
Act. Analyze the differences to determine their cause
This cycle then repeats by feeding back into the Plan step.
Much of the capability to significantly improve a product or process is dependent upon an investment in quality. This type of investment is usually done outside the project where typically management is responsible for the investment and providing the resources and organize support for quality management.
Examples include bringing proprietary methods, such as capability maturity model integration (CMMI) into the organization, or investing more in appraisal and analysis verses defect repair.
One of the aspects of quality you need to be familiar with is the distinction between quality and grade:
Quality. The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements
Grade. A category assigned to products or services having the same functional use but different technical characteristics
Consider for example a secure the entrance to the building. One vendor, proposes using a Security System with cameras, retinal scans, infrared beams at the windows, a double door entry system, and panic buttons that are directly wired to the vendor source.
Another vendor, proposes using a double door with a card swipe machine for entry. This would be supported by a computer application that records entry and exit times by person as well as authorized drop off and pick up persons.
Suppose that you now do some research on both of the vendors and find the following reviews for the first source:
“when we use them we got caught in between the double goals and they could not get us out for several hours”
“the retinal scan is keep going offline, and we have to shut down and reboot the system to get them to reset”
“when we called the hotline to test the responsiveness, we will put on hold”
The feedback from the second vendor gave the following reviews:
“when I called, they picked up right away. The people were very helpful, and their response time was excellent”
“this system is great and easy to use, it’s the only takes the facility secure, it helps me plan my staffing”
These examples demonstrate that while the first vendor is higher grade because it has lots of features and functions, it is low quality because it does not meet the criteria are fit for use.
On the other hand, the second vendor is lower grade, but is fit for use. In other words, it is higher quality because it meets the needs, does not break down, and is used and useful
PMI takes the position that delivery more quality than is required is inappropriate as it views quality as meeting the requirements. Delivering better quality or grade is considered gold plating and is frowned upon because gold plating uses Time and Resources to add features and functions that are not necessary.
An important distinction that you need to understand is the difference between accuracy and precision:
Accuracy. The degree to which the measured value is close to the true value
Precision. The degree to which repeated measurements are clustered and have little scatter
Other important concepts that you need to understand are:
The practice of TQM focuses on organizations always looking for ways to improve the quality of their products and processes
Like TQM, this practice also looks to improve the quality of products and processes, but it focuses on continuous incremental improvements. You may also hear this referred to as Kaizen, the Japanese word for improvement.