Quality Planning (Project) - Explained
What is Project Quality Planning?
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Table of ContentsWhat is Project Quality?What is Quality Management in a Project?What is Quality Planning? What goes into the Quality Plan?What is Quality Assurance?Quality Assurance Tools & TechniquesWhat is Cost-to-Benefit Analysis?What are Control Charts? What is Benchmarking?What is Design of Experiments? How to Assess Quality with Statistical Sampling? What is Tolerance?What are Control Limits?What is the Normal DistributionWhat is Flowcharting?What is a Quality Audit?
What is Project Quality?
Quality concerns whether the action, process, good, etc., being assessed meets applicable standards and expectations.
In a project, the project manager is responsible for developing quality specifications for the project execution and deliverables.
As such, Project Quality is the extent to which the execution of tasks or the creation of deliverables meets the applicable specifications and expectations of stakeholders.
To do this the manager must:
- Develop a comprehensive understanding of the project, standards, and expectations, and
- Create processes for assuring the project meets those specifications and expectations.
What is Quality Management in a Project?
Quality management includes overseeing the various elements of a project (activities, processes, outputs) in a manner that maintains the desired level of quality.
The starting point for assessing quality is the determination of whether the output meets stakeholder expectations. These often set or affect the standards for project deliverables.
The send aspect of quality is to determine whether the output meets applicable standards (industry, legal, company, etc.)
“Fitness to use” is generally the standard for a product that is being designed for use. That is, the product must be fit for the purposes for which it is intended.
Quality managers undertake quality planning and quality assurance
What is Quality Planning?
Quality planning is the process by which the manager identifies and applies applicable standards to a project and how those standards will be achieved and confirmed.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines quality as, “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements.”
Ascribing a grade to represent the required quality standards applicable to whatever is being assessed serves a means of comparison.
This process requires the manager to determine what will be measured, the metrics to be used, and how those measurements will be used to assess success. The metrics should be specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic and time-bound (SMART).
What goes into the Quality Plan?
The manager will be charged with creating the quality plan.
Planning for quality is part of the initial planning process. The early scope, budget, and schedule estimates are used to identify processes, services, or products where the expected grade and quality should be specified.
The quality plan will include benchmarks for the activities, processes, and deliverables. This will allow the manager to measure the quality of the project against these established standards.
Milestones are generally set based upon the progress of a project against expectations generated from previous projects and industry standards or other measurements. The manager will measure progress periodically from the initial development stages to the final product.
Risk analysis is used to determine which of the risks to the project could affect quality.
A quality plan should identify who is responsible for meeting the benchmarks and milestones. Also, it should identify the stakeholder(s) who have the authority to confirm standards are being met.
Quality planning is important as it impacts performance, reputation, and costs.
What is Quality Assurance?
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) provides the following quality assurance definition...
"The planned and systematic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements for a product or service will be fulfilled."
You can think of quality assurance as the activities and management processes that are done to ensure that the products and services the project delivers are at the required quality level. It is process driven and focused on the development of the product or delivery of the service.
Quality Assurance Tools & Techniques
There are many tools and techniques that form the basis of the key quality assurance principles. Some of these include...
- Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Cost of Quality (COQ)
- Control Charts
- Design of Experiments (DOE)
- Statistical Sampling
- Flow Charting
- Quality Management Methodologies (i.e. Six Sigma, CMMI, etc)
- Cause and Effect Diagrams (i.e. Fishbone Diagram)
- Pareto Chart
- Run Chart
- Scatter Diagram
What is Cost-to-Benefit Analysis?
Producing and output with a higher quality standard generally costs more than producing an output with lower quality standards. The quality plan specifies the control limits of the product or process; the size of the range between those limits is the tolerance. Tolerances are often written as the mean value, plus or minus the tolerance. The plus and minus signs are written together, ±.
The choice of tolerance directly affects the cost of quality (COQ). In general, it costs more to produce and measure products that have small tolerances. The costs associated with making products with small tolerances for variation can be very high and not proportional to the gains. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis determines how much each incremental improvement affects the bottom line. This can guide decision-making in the design and implementation process.
What are Control Charts?
Statistical process controls can be used to identify trends and keep the processes within control limits.
What is Benchmarking?
This involves using existing standards from the industry, related industries, or related projects to compare the progress and outputs of the existing project.
What is Design of Experiments?
Specialists in quality control design a test regimen that complies with statistical requirements to be sure that enough samples are taken to be reasonably confident that the analysis is reliable.
How to Assess Quality with Statistical Sampling?
If quality concerns the extent to which the thing being assessed meets applicable standards, then identifying the metrics for quality allows comparison using statistical analysis.
The project management plan will identify what will be measured and the pass/fail criteria. Examples of possible quality metrics:
- Failure rate
- Defect frequency
- on-time performance
- on-budget performance
- Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF)
- Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)
What is Tolerance?
Tolerance is the range of acceptable results. If a result is out of tolerance, it must be rejected
What are Control Limits?
Control limits are boundaries which represent acceptable variation for the purpose of controlling and manipulating the process. A result can be within acceptable tolerances, but signify a process which is out of control and/or requires additional development.
Samples of output or work product can be taken and measured.
The data can be collected based on the following two methods:
- Attributes sampling contains a single pass/fail criteria. The product either passes, or fails.
- Variables sampling contains a sliding scale criteria. The product is rated on a scale of 1-10, class A-C, or similar.
The range of values recorded are divided equally into subdivisions called bins. The measurements can be sorted, and the number of measurements that fall into each bin can be counted. The result is a frequency distribution that shows how many measurements fall into each bin.
What is the Normal Distribution
If whatever is causing a deviation from expectations is random, then you will end up with a “Normal Distribution” of measurements.
The average of those measurements will be the “mean” or “central value”.
Calculating the standard deviation will provide an estimate of the number of measures that are expected to fall within a given distance from the central value. Basically, what percentage of the total measurements will be within a certain distance from the central value.
To calculate the standard deviation., subtract each measurement from the central value and then squaring that difference.
Then, sum these squared values and divide by the number of values minus one.
Finally, take the square root of this number.
You can think of this number as the average difference of measurements from the central value.
The project manager will mark the range on the frequency distribution chart to show the values that fall within one standard deviation on either side of the mean.
In a normal distributions, 68.3 percent of the measurements fall within one standard deviation on either side of the mean.
So, in a normal distribution, you know that about 2/3 of the measurements will fall within the standard deviation. This tells you the extent to which all items assessed meets that standard.
Further, the number of measurements within two standard deviations is 95.4 percent, and the number of measurements within three standard deviations is 99.7 percent.
What is Flowcharting?
A flowchart can be used to plan and assess quality. A flowchart uses standard symbols to diagram a process that has branches or loops. Diamonds indicate decisions, and arrows indicate the direction of the flow of the process.
What is a Quality Audit?
A quality audit is when an outside group (outside of the organization or from a different department) comes in and reviews the quality procedures and accuracy of the data.