The Project Quality Management processes ensure that the project's deliverables meet the requirements for which the project has been undertaken, as well as making sure the project's processes align with the quality requirements of the performing organization.
Quality is "the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements" while grade is "a category assigned to products or services having the same functional use but different technical characteristics."
We generally think of quality as embodying a superior property, such as this brand of laundry detergent is better quality than another brand.
But the grade is separate from quality, and the two are often mistakenly confused.
The grade is largely determined by characteristics while quality is based on meeting expectations, so we can have a low-grade product that is high quality or vice-versa a high-grade product that is low quality.
Because quality is based solely on fulfilling a customer's explicit and implicit requirements, different customers will have a different view of what quality is.
For example, if we have only $10 to spend on a bouquet of flowers then our expectations are probably in the neighborhood of a lower grade of flowers, such as a bouquet of daisies.
But on the other hand, if we're willing to spend $100 then we're probably going to the flower shop looking for high-grade flowers like long-stemmed roses.
Let’s imagine that we bought both, but after only one day the roses faded and began to droop; however, the daisies lasted for a whole week.
We probably expected the roses to last longer than a day, so they failed to live up to our quality expectations while the daisies exceeded our expectations.
So the lower grade product was high quality, and the higher grade product failed our expectations, and so was of lower quality.
The difference between grade and quality is important because it's the responsibility of the project management team in collaboration with the stakeholders to determine what the required levels of both will be and then developing a plan for quality that ensures those requirements are met while ending up with a product, service, or result that is fit for the customer’s intended use.
Project Quality Management is comprised of three processes:
- Plan Quality (8.1)
Establish and plan for meeting project quality requirements.
- Perform Quality Assurance (8.2)
Ensure the project is meeting the requirements established in the project quality management plan.
- Perform Quality Control (8.3)
Make sure the deliverables are meeting their quality requirements.
Activities performed in the project quality management processes ensure the project’s product, service, or result meets the requirements for which the project was undertaken, the expectations of the customer, and that the project’s activities are efficiently executed.
Because a project is only one component of larger endeavors, quality management has to stretch beyond the project’s boundaries, so project quality management is concerned not just on the deliverables the project is creating but on the management of the project itself and of the processes used by the activities performed within the project.
While product quality improvement efforts primarily benefit the customer through lower product costs, benefits from process improvements are reaped by the performing organization both within and outside the project through better work processes.
Enterprise Quality management and project quality management complement each other in that they both stress:
- Customer satisfaction
Quality is all about meeting the expectations and requirements of the customer and stakeholders and creating a product that fulfills those needs and is fit for its intended use.
Quality is achieved by planning, designing, and building it into a product or process from the inception.
- Management responsibility
It’s up to the project team to ensure the success of quality efforts but it is up to organizational management to provide the financial resources needed for quality efforts to succeed.
- Continuous improvement
Quality and process improvement rely on the ongoing plan-do check- act cycle.