Project Quality Management: A Getting Started Guide for Agile Teams
Project quality management is all about maintaining project quality without affecting productivity. Here's what experts recommend doing to get started.
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You delivered the product/services, everything was on time, and everyone worked hard, but something is amiss. Maybe the product’s quality is lacking, or the project itself wasn’t very high-quality.
Often we are so focused on delivering the products/services on time that we forget a very essential aspect of the project. Project quality management.
Quality precedes quantity; that has been the motto for years. However, the ever-changing nature of the global market and the rapidly fluctuating demands have had a massive impact on how we work. Churning out new products, features, etc., has become the universal goal of all businesses, and in that race, we sometimes forgo the maintenance of quality.
Remember when we say the quality is not just the quality of the products you make but the quality of the process itself? The constant need to develop evermore has out the quality in the back seat. But how will we ever progress if we give up on maintaining quality?
Maintaining quality throughout the lifecycle is as essential as the quality of the product itself. With project quality management, you determine the quality of the deliverables produced and make sure that everything is spot-on.
Don’t worry. We are getting to the point. This article is our attempt to help you understand project quality management, what it is, and how it works.
What Is Project Quality Management?
Quality is a measure of how good or bad a project is. The better the quality, the better the project. Quality management refers to the maintenance of standard quality. Quality management is the realm of project management and refers to the maintenance of quality during a project’s lifecycle.
Project Management Institute (PMI) defines it in the following words:
“The planning, scoping, implementing, and monitoring of quality into all phases of the project from concept through the delivery aspects of the work. Quality Management involves forming and managing a team of people to achieve a qualitative goal within an effective cost and time frame, which will result in the production of a quality product or service. It entails selecting the specification parameters along with the systems and procedures needed to assure that quality is properly executed in all phases.”
Just as project management is not a single step or a phase, quality management is a process, a repetitive cycle of gauging quality, making changes for improvement, monitoring the process, making changes again, and so on. The process continues until the desired quality is achieved.
Key Points to Remember
One of the main principles of quality management is ensuring that the project meets or exceeds the stakeholders’ expectations. Meeting the requirements is the first for satisfying the stakeholders; to do that, knowing what they desire is of critical importance.
If the project encounters any difficulty or the stakeholders disapprove of anything, you will have to go back to the process and start over. To save yourself from all that trouble, you can get clarity on the needs of stakeholders and make sure that every step of the way, your project fulfills all the standards of quality stated by the client.
Once you have got that right, we are sure your project will be a success through and through.
Secondly, prevention is better than cure. That concept is not lost in project management. In fact, it fits the tenets of quality management. Will you prefer to start over on making the right revisions at the right time during the process? We are guessing, NO.
Improving the quality of the process while it’s in progress is more feasible for everyone. Not only will it save your team from the stress of starting over, but it will also help cut additional costs. And that is the right way to do things.
So, if you wish to be showered with praise instead of receiving backlash for underperforming, quality management is the way to go.
Lastly, remember quality management is not a one-time thing. Even if you have done a project thousand times over, you might find new things the one thousand and one time you do it with quality management.
Quality management is an ongoing process. Whether you make small changes or take a big leap, it will guide you like the North star, ensuring that every step you take will take you closer to your goal.
Quality management presents choices that can help you improve your process. You can make your project as flawless as you want. All you need to do is constantly gauge your performance, identify gaps, and loopholes of your weaknesses, upgrade and update the process, measure performance, and repeat.
The more you know, the more you grow!
Project Quality Management – How Does It Work?
Unlike what you may believe, quality management is not an end-of-the-process stage. Quite oppositely, it is a process itself. A process that is embedded in the project’s lifecycle and moves in tandem with it. As a process, quality management is sectioned into three main phases:
If you are new to quality management, you can just read the following section and learn how to implement project quality management in your organization. The process is simple and easy to follow. Let’s see how it works.
1. Quality Planning
Projects always start with setting goals. The same is true for quality management.
First things first, identify and define your goals. How do you determine if the project is of good quality or not? What KPIs do you use to measure stakeholders’ satisfaction with the project? And so forth.
The answers to these questions help you determine the standards of quality you wish to achieve in your project. Once you have set these straight, you can start working towards achieving those goals or reaching that standard.
Before you actually start working on the goals, ensure the clarity of goals through the team or organization. Planning will not work until or unless you communicate these goals to your team members. Once everyone is clear on that, you can start delegating tasks to the resources and set the plan in motion.
These goals will be your guiding light for the project, helping you ensure that everything is on track.
2. Quality Assurance
The next phase in the implementation of quality management is quality assurance. This is not one of those steps that usually occupies the last place on organizations’ lists. Quality assurance, as a step, in quality management, is your way of ensuring stakeholders are happy with the way the project is progressing.
With quality assurance, you get the confidence of the stakeholders. It’s a seal that guarantees that your project fulfilled all the requirements during the process. The standards of quality set in the planning phase guide this process.
With relevant KPIs and other measuring standards, you gauge whether or not the project is fulfilling those standards or not. If your project fulfills all the standards and the stakeholders are satisfied with how things are progressing, then your project is good to go.
However, if it lacks in one way or another, it is time to take relevant measures to ensure everything does not go to waste. Once you get the green light from this phase, you can move on to the next one, i.e., quality control.
3. Quality Control
Quality control is the last phase of the process. Differentiating between this step and the previous one is essential because people often confuse one with the other. Think of the difference in this way, if quality assurance is the action, then quality control is the reaction.
Quality assurance evaluates the process to identify a problem, if any. Quality control, on the other hand, functions after the problem has been placed. It suggests corrective measures to fix the gap and amplify the quality.
Quality control involves identifying the problem, analyzing it, and resolving it. With quality control, it is diagnosed whether or not the project fulfills the requirements set beforehand. Also included in this stage is identifying potential risks, mitigating these risks, and eliminating any factors affecting the project negatively.
With quality control, you can also ensure that the project is on time and within the budget. You can ensure the quality of the project through peer reviews and testing. If any discrepancy is noted, you can take corrective measures immediately to ensure the end result is not affected.
This phase is a two-step process:
- Identify the cause of poor quality and take necessary action to improve project quality
- Make sure that the project deliverables comply with the quality standards set by the stakeholders in the planning phase
Although quality control is usually done at the end, you can do the process in the middle, too, since it will allow you to weed out any problems before they become a tough nut to crack. Remember, the early bird catches the worm.
How to Define Quality?
Back to square one!
Defining quality is central to quality management, and by all means, it can be a bit tricky to identify what qualifies as good quality and what is bad quality. How do you define quality? What standards does a process need to fulfill for it to be deemed good quality?
Here are a few questions, the answer to which will help you measure the quality of your project:
- Does it fulfill the standards set beforehand?
- Does it comply with all the requirements put forth by the stakeholders?
- Does it produce favorable results?
- How close is it to the ideal?
- Does it lie within the range of acceptance criteria?
- Will it build good results if it is repeated over time?
If the answer to most of the questions listed above is cheerful, congratulations, you have already aced quality management.
How Is the Process Beneficial for You?
There are countless benefits of implementing the process in your business; we are sure you will start reaping them as soon as you put the process in motion. That being said, here are a few of its advantages that make it truly worth it!
- A better quality process translates into better quality products. The better the quality of the process, the better the quality of the deliverables produced.
- Customers are always on the lookout for better-quality products. If you give them that, you are ultimately paving your way to fully satisfied customers.
- Quality management improves your productivity. Since you optimize your performance every step, you start producing better quality products faster.
- Quality management can help you save big bucks. Instead of spending large amounts of money restarting a process, you can spend less on readjusting the ongoing operation and still make a big difference.
- The aftereffects of quality management will reach your team too. By eliminating performance silos, your team will be able to work better together and produce better results.
Using Quality Management Software
If quality management seems like a tough pill to swallow, you can always take help from quality management tools. There are dedicated tools in the market designed to help you plan, monitor, and execute the quality management process efficiently. With a good tool in hand, you can cut costs, save time, bring everyone together on the same page and implement a healthy improvement mechanism.
Best of luck!
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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