07. Quality Management

Quality of the product is important, but so is the quality of the process. This quality is typically derived from industry standards like TQM, ISO-9000, Six Sigma and others.

Quality is a very proactive approach since it is far cheaper to prevent a problem from occurring rather than fixing the problem. This responsibility rests largely on the shoulders of the project manager. They are ultimately responsible and accountable for the quality of a project.

Quality management relies heavily on the processes being done in the appropriate order, Plan, Manage, and Control. Additionally, its important to know that the investment of quality is done by the organization and not the project, as this would not be financially feasible. 

Quality: the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements. 

Process Group Quality Management Process
Initiating None
Planning Plan Quality Management
Executing Managing Quality
Monitoring & Controlling Control Quality
Closing None

Process Primary Output
Plan Quality Management Quality Management Plan
Quality Metrics
Manage Quality Change Requests
Test & Evaluation Documents
Control Quality Quality Control Measurements
Verified Deliverables

Quality Terms and Philosophies

Total Quality Management (TQM): How something is produced becomes more important than what is actually produced, which includes all employees. This was popularized by W.E. Deming. 

Continuous Improvement (Kaizen): Stresses constant process improvement through small changes in products, process, or services.

Just-In-Time (JIT): Manufacturing technique that lowers inventory to zero, which forces quality since there are not replacement parts.

ISO 9000: Aspect of the International Organization for Standardization to ensure companies document how they do something and actually do what they document.

Statistical Independence: Outcome of two processes are not linked together or dependent upon each other.

Mutually Exclusive: Statistical term that states one choice excludes the others.

Standard Deviation: Statistical calculation used to measure and describe how a set of data is organized. Which can be used to set quality levels, Six Sigma, or to set control limits to determine if a process is in control.

Six Sigma: Popular quality philosophy that focuses on achieving very high levels of quality by reducing defects and controlling the process. Underlying theory that anything will vary if measured to a fine enough level. 1 Sigma allows 300k defects, 3 sigma allows 2700 defects, and 6 sigma allows 3. Companies may go higher with their quality than six sigma allows.

Prevention vs. Inspection: Keeping defects from occurring while Inspection is identifying and catching them that have occurred. Project Management strongly favors preventing defects.

Attribute Sampling vs. Variable Sampling: Attribute is binary, something either conforms to quality or it does not. Variable measures how well something meets quality.

Special Causes vs. Common Causes: Special case could be a problem with a machine that lead to certain defects, where a common cause could be something that is related to fluctuations in raw material. Special causes are considered preventable by process improvement where Common causes are generally accepted.

Tolerances vs. Control Limits: Tolerances deal with the limits your project has set for product acceptance. Control Limits are typically set at three standard deviations above and below the mean. Tolerances focus on whether the product is acceptable, while Control limits focus on whether the process itself is acceptable.

Customer Satisfaction: Two components are Fitness for Use and Conformance to Requirements. This determines whether the deliverables solve the underlying need and whether it works properly. Meaning, does it do the right thing, and does it do the thing right.

Management Responsibility: Top to the bottom, everyone is responsible for quality, but management has to make sure the focus stays on quality and provide adequate resources and funding.

Mutually Beneficial Partnership with Suppliers: Often times suppliers are an extended part of an organization, where strong relationships benefit both parties. Because of this, decisions can be made for the long term and short quick advantages.

Agile Projects: Because agile seeks to get products into the customer’s hands as quickly as possible, feedback is a huge component to an agile project, which includes quality. If a problem with quality is detected, it’ll be caught early and the solution will be fast and low cost to implement.