PM4DEV Blog

Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Who Defines Quality?

b2ap3_thumbnail_quality.jpgQuality in project management is defined as "the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs" (PMBoK). If the project deliverable (goods or services) are not able to meet the stated or implied needs of the beneficiaries, then the project did not meet its quality goal.

Project quality is ultimately defined by the beneficiary, and represents how close the project comes to meet the beneficiaries’ needs. The project manager’s goal is to understand the requirements and needs of the beneficiaries and then ensure the project will meet them

The purpose of quality management is to first understand the needs of the beneficiaries in terms of quality and then put a quality plan to meet those needs. Because quality is defined by the beneficiary, there may be some subjectivity in its definition. But there are methods to make quality more objective. One of these methods requires listing the specific characteristics of quality that are important to the beneficiaries. Then determine the metrics that the project will collect to measure the quality characteristics. 

From there the project manager will develop a quality management plan focused not only on product/service quality, but also the means to achieve it. Quality management is a process that includes quality planning, quality assurance and quality control to achieve more consistent quality.

Quality Planning.  A quality plan includes a clear definition of the goals of the project. This includes assessing the assumptions and risks to success, setting quality standards, documenting processes, and defining the methods and tests to achieve, control, predict and verify success. These activities should be in the project plan and assigned to the team who will report and track quality metrics and document the criteria by which the project deliverables will be accepted by the beneficiaries

Quality Assurance.  Quality assurance uses metrics to determine if the quality plan is proceeding as planned. With the use of qualitative and quantitative metrics, the project manager can measure project quality. The use of tests or quality audits helps predict and verify the achievement of goals and identify need for corrective actions.

Quality Control. Quality control is the review to ensure quality standards. This process includes identifying, analyzing, and correcting problems. Quality control monitors specific project outputs and identifies project risk factors.

It’s important that key stakeholders and beneficiaries are involved in this process, their participation in the quality management process ensures that the project will meet its quality goals. 

 

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The Value of a Project Management Methodology


b2ap3_thumbnail_Q1-07-P3.pngA methodology is a collection of best practices, knowledge, processes and internal agreements that become a standardized set of procedures for an organization to manage its projects. Using project methodologies is a strategy that maximizes the project's value to the organization. The methodologies must evolve and be constantly improved to accommodate an organization's changing strategy, focus or direction.

There is not one methodology that fits all organizations and all needs, a project management methodology must be build following the organizations culture, vision, mission, values and with a strong focus on stakeholder benefits. A methodology is by essence a set of tailored guidelines or principles that can be applied to a specific situation. In a project environment, these guidelines usually include description of processes, procedures, standards, templates, forms, and checklists used over the project life cycle. Many development organizations today do not use any formalized project methodology. They run their projects as they always have. However, the environment and new demands from donors and beneficiaries is changing rapidly. Organizations are in need for dynamic methodologies and processes, that allows organizations with the ability to change their development strategies to deliver more benefits and create larger impact while keeping accountability for their actions.

The Value of a Project Management Methodology

A good project management methodology provides the framework, processes, guidelines and techniques to manage the people and achieve the project objectives. A good methodology increases the odds of project success and therefore provides value to the organization, the project, the donor and the beneficiaries. The cost of developing and implementing a project management methodology are offset by:

  • Completing projects effectively and efficiently. Once the processes, procedures and templates are created, they can be used and improved by future projects. This results in reduced effort to start the project, a shorter learning curve for project team members and time and budget savings from not having to reinvent processes and templates from scratch on each project.
  • Better results through better planning. Projects experience problems because there is a difference between what the donor expects and what the project delivers. Using a methodology gives the project, the donor and the beneficiaries an opportunity to ensure there is a mutual understanding on what the project aims to achieve.
  • Resolving problems more quickly. Having a proactive issues management process helps ensure that problems are resolved as quickly as possible and reduces the time project managers spend dealing with issues
  • Resolving future risk before the problems occur. A sound project management methodology includes processes that facilitates the identification of potential risks and the development of risk response plans before the problems actually occur.
  • Managing expectations with stakeholders more effectively. A project management methodology focuses on the development of formal and informal communications, which results in improved understanding of the project objectives and approach among the different stakeholders
  • Improved financial management. Occurs as the result of better project definition, better estimating, more formal budgeting and better tracking of the project actual costs against the budget.

Organizations that have good processes, and follow them, obtain better results in a consistent, repeatable and predictable manner.

 

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