Quality Assurance – how do we do it?
It’s a funny thing quality assurance – we all say we want it, everyone says they do it, yet few understand how to apply it. Open a phone book, look at a billboard, see, that darned word quality is everywhere!
And when it comes to project management – well, it’s the one topic that sends PMP® delegates into a deep sleep. It’s almost like the word quality is a trance-inducing drug.
So let’s fix a part of that problem right now and right here. I’ll blog some more about this vital PMP® topic later, but for now I’ll focus on the difference between quality assurance and quality control:
Back in the day, the watchword for quality was inspection. Smart organizations inspected everything. Assume that the guy or gal making it is a goofball – so inspect everything they do – that way we’ll catch the screwups and stop them getting to our customers.
Well, these days we still need inspection as it is a powerful tool, BUT current thinking is focused on PREVENTION rather than inspection because it is cheaper to prevent errors than fix them. That’s quality assurance!
For students of PMP®, they will want to remember that there are 5 process groups, Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and controlling, and Closing. These are processes that occur throughout the project – often many times. Now let’s talk about the twin topic of this PMP blog:
Perform Quality Assurance.
This is an Executing process, and its main focus is on process improvement. It is mainly concerned with every day, in every way, gradually and continuously improving the activities and processes that are carried out in order to achieve quality. After all, if you improve the quality of your processes and activities, then so should the quality assurance of your project deliverables/products – and that in turn will drive down overall costs.
Perform Quality Control.
This is a Monitoring and Control process, and is where every deliverable is inspected, measured in some way, and tested. It checks that the results conform to quality standards. It covers both the project and its products throughout the project. If any defects are found, then they will need to be corrected.
A very simple example of the above, is that quality assurance could be calibrating a machine or training the operator, while quality control is inspecting or testing the products that are being made by the machine.
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David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for US multinationals and now develops a wide range of project-related video training products under the Primer brand. In addition, David runs training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management. He currently lives in Spain with his wife Jude.
“PMI” and “PMP” are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.