PM4DEV Blog

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

Quality Management

Who Defines Project Quality?

In development projects, quality is ultimately defined by the beneficiary, and represents how close the project and deliverables come to meeting the beneficiaries’ requirements and expectations. The project manager’s goal is to understand the requirements and expectations of the beneficiaries, and then ensure the project will meet those expectations.

There is a predisposition to think that quality means the most expensive material or equipment. However, in most cases, the beneficiary does not expect an expensive solution, especially if it does not meet their expectations. What they need is a solution that will solve the problem the project aimed to work out.

The purpose of quality management is to first understand the expectations of the beneficiaries in terms of quality, and then put a quality plan to meet those expectations. 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 can collect to measure the quality characteristic. In addition to understanding the beneficiaries’ definition of quality, it is important to recognize other stakeholder's interests as well. Depending on the roles of the stakeholders, they may have other quality requirements that need to be satisfied. For instance:

  • The organization - The project supports the development strategic goals.
  • Donors - The project meets the contract or grant agreements
  • Partners - The solution helps them do their job better, faster, easier.

One of the objectives of quality management is to find mistakes or errors as early in the project as possible. A good quality management process usually requires more effort and time, but the benefits in many cases outweigh the costs. The project manager needs to set up a system that collects metrics to make the quality management process work. If the project is not capturing metrics, it will be hard to improve processes through a quality management. The worst case is to have the beneficiary, or the donor, find the problem after the project has been completed.

Remember that quality means "the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs" (PMBOK).

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What is the Definition of Quality?

Quality 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 deliverables (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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