Some of the definitions you will need to understand are:
Ask yourself, “Do I have a quality management plan on my projects?” If your answer is yes, this chapter probably needs only a brief review.
If you do not have a quality management plan, please let me ask you why. Because you never thought about it? Because your company does not require it?
Honestly, there is no excuse. “But project managers do not have time to spend on quality,” you might say. If you think about it, lack of attention to quality means more rework or defects. The more rework you need, the more time and money you are wasting and the less likely you are to meet the project time and cost baselines.
If asked, “Is it better to plan in quality, or inspect to find quality problems?” almost everyone will answer correctly that it is better to plan in quality. However, that is not how most of the quality-related questions are presented on the exam. Rather, they focus on situations relating to quality to see if you can properly handle the situation. For example:
The project manager finds that one of his team members has created her own process for installing hardware. What should the project manager do? Beginning project managers might choose a response that relates to thanking the team member for the effort. More experienced project managers might select a choice that relates to finding out if the process was a good one.
The best project managers, and those worthy of PMP certification, will select the choice that relates to investigating the quality management plan to determine if they should have provided a standard process.
Those without quality experience will have a hard time with such questions. Thankfully, not all the quality questions are that difficult. Expect new terms. Expect to see questions that talk about manufacturing environments (e.g., you manufacture tables). Expect questions about the process of quality and how quality relates to the “triple constraint,” as defined in this course.
Imagine a project to build a stadium that is mostly made of concrete. The concrete part of the stadium is two-thirds poured when the buyer arrives one day and tests the strength of the concrete. They find that it does not meet the clearly stated quality requirements for concrete strength in the contract. You can imagine the problems when the buyer says, “Rip out the concrete, it is not acceptable.” Whose fault is this? Why did this occur?
Could we say it is the buyer’s fault for not testing the concrete sooner? You might argue that case, but isn’t the real fault with the sellers for not testing the quality themselves? Where was their quality plan? They should have noted the requirement and determined when and how they would confirm that they met it. Lack of attention to quality here needlessly added considerable risk to the project.
Here is another scenario to consider. Have any of your customers ever said one of your deliverables was not acceptable, although you were not provided in advance with a definition of what was acceptable from the customer? We need to know what is acceptable quality, how it will be measured and then determine what we will do to make sure we meet those requirements in order to avoid such unclear acceptance criteria as “the customer likes it.”
Performing the quality process well avoids many issues that can arise later in the project.
What is quality? Know the short definition for the exam. Quality is defined as the degree to which the project fulfills requirements. MEMORIZE this phrase to help you answer about four questions.
Not too long ago I was teaching a class in New York City, N.Y., U.S.A. One of my students looked out the window and noticed someone painting the limestone of an old building white. She said, “That is not quality!” Why would such painting be quality?
If the painting contract required the painter to use a certain kind of paint and follow painting standards, and he was doing so, the work was quality. The issue the student really had was that the wonderful old stone was being painted instead of cleaned. In other words, this was a disagreement with the requirements, not the quality of the work.
Go back and review the definition of quality again. Can you have quality if you do not have all the stated and unstated requirements defined in the project scope statement? Of course not. This makes the stakeholder analysis effort (from scope management) and the resulting project scope statement very important to quality.
Quality management includes creating and following policies and procedures in order to ensure that a project meets the defined needs it was intended to meet. This can also mean the same thing as completing the project with no deviations from the project requirements. Quality management includes quality planning, perform quality assurance and perform quality control.
Quality-related questions can be confusing because many of the topics on the exam are not in the PMBOK® Guide and because PMI’s quality philosophy may be different from that of your company. Some companies refer to what PMI calls perform quality assurance as quality planning. Some companies believe in giving the customer extras, while PMI wants us to focus on meeting the requirements.
List the specific ACTIONS required to ensure quality on the project.
Here are some answers:
David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of project-related downloadable video training products under the Primer and PM Mastery System brand names. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.
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