Project Quality Management
Project Quality Management is one of the 10 Knowledge Areas in the Project Management Institute (PMI) Body of Knowledge (BoK).
The concept is that the focus should be on both meeting ‘Project’ and also ‘Product’ quality. If either of these are missed, the stakeholders’ objectives will not be met.
Additionally, the process for delivering projects should be subjected to continuous improvement from a quality assurance perspective.
Projects have three main aspects: Finishing on time, to budget, and delivering the correct functionality required. This is shown by the ‘Iron Triangle’ of Project Management Time-Cost-Quality.
The weakest issue about the triangle is misunderstanding the word ‘Quality’. It can often replaced with ‘Objectives’, ‘Specification’, or ‘Functionality’.
The target for any project is to deliver both ‘High Quality’ (always working) and ‘High Grade’ (Required Features). ‘Low Grade’ might be initially acceptable as long as the quality is high. ‘Low Quality’ is never acceptable. However, it should always be remembered never to add functionality if it isn’t required and covered in the project scope document.
Projects are Different
Projects can be diverse. On some projects, quality may involve delivering many products from one project. It is the role of the project manager to ensure that the project delivers the manufacturing capability for ongoing Project Quality Management. The responsibility for quality may then pass to Manufacturing. So it needs be clear when the Project Managers role finishes.
On other projects many components may be used on a single project where quality might be an issue. It is the role of the project manager to ensure that the project monitors this manufacturing capability for ongoing project success.
On projects that require many components of a similar type, the Project Manager needs to understand manufacturing quality issues.
An example would be the number (Circa 500,000) of ‘Sleepers’ or ‘Ties’ required for the HS2 rail project. Project Quality Management here takes on the same aspect as Manufacturing Quality or Product Quality Management. The Project Manager needs to understand the quality of the delivered components.
In any project situation, the Production/Manufacturing department needs to keep producing the products to a quality standard as delivered by the project:
- Accurately: Within a close range
- Precisely: Meeting the specification
- Repeatably: Meeting the specification every day
- Reproducibly: The same results are obtained at different manufacturing facilities
Here are some other terms that might be applied to ‘Quality’ of a product:
- Reliability: Consistent and dependable operation at all times
- Relevance: Appropriate in meeting the needs of the beneficiaries
- Performance: In extreme conditions, temperatures, environments, or with little maintenance
- Functionality: Degree to which it performs it’s intended function
- Timeliness: In time to solve the problems of the stakeholders
- Suitability: Fit for the intended purpose
- Completeness: Including Training, Service, and user Support as appropriate
- Consistency: The same experience for all customers/users
It can be seen that these terms might also be important during the delivery of the project.
Ford Kuga in the News
And so to the reasons for writing this blog. A project has been completed that has produced a very poor product. The Ford KUGA Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) has some severe quality issues relating to the external charging of the batteries.
This has led to a product that has reduced features (customers cannot use this feature) and poor quality. To compensate customers for the loss of the ‘feature’ FORD has offered fuel vouchers.
This is a clear case of a project that may have been successful in terms of Budget and Schedule, but fails on Quality.
However, this is not the end of the quality story. Quality assurance should also be applied to the procedures and tools to manage the project. I’ve previously written about Project Schedule Quality. Quality and Continuous Improvement also applies to all of the other areas of project management.
Project Management Maturity is one way of measuring how well an organisation delivers projects. The higher stages of most maturity models check that project management processes are repeatable, controlled, and optimised.
Its easy to say projects are about Time, Cost, and Quality. What is far more difficult is making sure that the term quality is understood and correctly applied.