Overview Of Project Quality Management

Project Quality Management is a crucial element in 9 knowledge areas as the victory of any project is dependent on its quality and it is equally essential for Project Manager. In Project Management Domain, every person demands quality.

The endeavor of this paper is to evaluate quality in project management domain by considering quality management in terms of following the quality planning, quality assurance and quality control processes by exploring the practices to success by maintaining cost, time and scope constraints. We will survey how quality affects the system and people associated with it and how to meet targets of any organization through better quality management.

Keywords- Project Quality Management, Project Management Domain, Quality Planning, Quality assurance, Quality Control, Project Implementation.

Introduction To Domain

Project Quality Management is the most difficult knowledge area to define. The ISO defines quality as “the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs” (ISO8402:1994) or “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements”. Different experts have different views about quality.

In software project management, Research have shown that most common reasons behind projects failure are schedule overruns, over budgets and the scope creep, these triple constraints (time, cost and scope) are termed as quality angle by Microsoft and changes made to any of these three sides probably effects the quality as quality is not a side of a triangle but is a outcome of what you do with time, cost and scope therefore these angles must be met for achieving quality of any project in the project management domain.

The reason for failure can also be measured to be the eagerness of project managers in adopting new methodologies, tools, techniques, skills and knowledge for achieving success of any project but not focusing on the quality itself.

Quality has different definitions in different organizations depending upon its standards but a basic one is that whatever is delivered should be according to the customer or organization’s expectations. According to Howard Gitlow and Shelley Gitlow Quality is defined as “surpassing customer needs and expectations throughout the life of the product.”

The quality of any project can be judged from different viewpoints e.g. business and technical. From business viewpoint the focus is on completing the project on time, within specified budget and according to the needs. From technical viewpoint quality verifies that the project conforms to the business standards e.g. documentation, user interfaces and the naming standards and the system to be produced should be maintainable.

Therefore, the main principle of Project Quality Management is to guarantee customer satisfaction. To understand quality of any project, the project team must spend time and build up good relationships with stakeholders to realize what quality is according to them as only customer can decide if product quality is acceptable.

Problem Description

Many technical projects fail because the project managers mostly emphasize on written requirements rather than stakeholders expectations. For example, the project manager and his team must understand the importance of delivering 50 Intel Laptops to customer successfully.

Changes are unavoidable during any project implementation, which may have a major or minor impact on project’s estimated schedule, budget and defined constraints if not planned accordingly; it can lead to project failure. “A 2002 survey of IT organizations shows that about 67% of the disputes on the functionality of the systems were that they did not meet up to claims of the developer and 56% of the disputes were due to slipped delivery dates which eventually ended in litigation.”[13]

For the management of project quality, quality planning, quality assurance and quality control holds an important point in the management domain. Every project must have a quality plan as it is a basic input for quality assurance and quality control but many organizations don’t bother to produce a plan because of its complexity which often results in undesirable product outcomes.

Scope

There are certain tools and techniques used in the project quality management area but the main processes to be followed for the achievement of quality products are the

Quality Planning

Quality Assurance

Quality Control

A concise analysis of these processes would elaborate various inputs involved with these processes and the tools and techniques used to generate the required outputs that lead to the accomplishment of better quality products.

In this paper, the success of quality will be discussed in terms of meeting defined time, cost and scope and how quality management processes leads to achieve targets of an organization.

Proposed Approach

The systematic approach that would be followed to achieve quality in projects is the quality management processes and the Re planning of cost, scope and time depending upon which module is more constraint in a particular project.

Process

Project Phase

Key Deliverables

Plan Quality

Planning

Quality Management Plan,

Quality Metrics

Quality Assurance

Execution

Change Requests

Quality Control

Monitoring and Controlling

Quality control measurements

Quality Re-Planning

Re-Planning

Trade-off between Quality Angle

Table 1: Quality Processes [12]

These processes usually take place at least once in any project to maintain the project’s quality as mentioned in PMBOK8 but plan should not be fixed in any case, it changes as the project progresses and is monitored in Quality control phase by getting the customer feedback and evaluating its conformance to requirements and fitness for use, Re-planning is done if the Quality assurance is not performed as previously planned.

A brief elaboration of each process is given highlighting IT Project’s Quality.

Quality Planning

Planning Quality involves implementation of organization’s quality standards and policies which should be followed in that particular organization.[3]

A quality plan needs to cover a number of elements: [3]

What work needs to go through a quality check?

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Tools and Techniques for quality planning?

When should it be carried out and what resources are allocated?

Who is responsible for the required quality?

What should be the output?

What work needs to go through quality check?

The Quality of deliverables of project are checked for example a requirements document is checked if it is according to the customer demands similarly the quality check is carried our for other deliverables. For the milestones or checkpoints, a standard is followed to check their functionality.

For the project itself, it may be appropriate to have the project management practices reviewed for quality once the project is initially established. This may be useful to give the Sponsor and top management a level of confidence in the team.

Tools and Techniques for quality planning?

Cost gain study- This study assures that gain should overweigh the cost. The productivity should be high with lower cost which satisfies customer requirements.

Benchmarking- The performance of the project is measured in terms of planned performance or by comparing its performance with other projects in same application areas [4][5].

Quality Diagrams- Different charts and diagrams help in predicting quality problems and build up methods to deal with them. [7]

When should it be carried out and what resources are allocated?

Quality measurements are held prior to the delivery of product when there are long development times for a deliverable and the resources required for the development of project are allocated such as human resources, financial and material resources.

For example, if four milestones of the project are estimated to be completed in 8 weeks but after the completion of 2 milestones the time left is only 3 weeks, it may be worth holding the inspection after each milestone to identify any problems early and reduce rework by reshuffling of resources and optimization of plan.

Who is responsible for the required quality?

The developers of the product as well as the customer both are responsible for the quality. In fact customer requirements define quality, not processes. For example a customer goes to a garments shop for purchasing a jersey, he would typically check its fabric, color, size and price if it’s according to his requirements than he would say it’s of good quality. He will not consider what processes are used to make it and how much time it took. In other words, it is not what you do or how you do it but who uses it that counts. Using the quality example again you can make the best clothing that was ever made, using the optimum materials and applying efficient processes but if no body needs it than it is just a waste. Hence, it is not only the project manager but the one essential to project success. [6]

What should be the outputs of quality planning?

The output includes the understanding of implementing quality policy by project management team. The quality plan should focus on Quality assurance (Execution), Quality Control (monitoring) and Quality improvement (Re-planning) of the project. Metrics and the checklists are most common outputs. Metrics describes what something is and how it is measured by quality control process for example the project management team makes a detailed schedule of start and end of every activity in the form of metrics. Many organizations use standard checklists to measure quality of activities performed.

Quality Assurance (QA)

In Quality Assurance (QA), the quality of a project is guaranteed by performing all the activities that are being planned from design to servicing and documentation that satisfies customer demands. It is a process of ensuring that the project meets quality standards which is also defined as quality measurements. [6][7]

Quality Audit- is an important tool for quality assurance. These audits help to improve performance of future projects by learning lessons from previous projects. Quality audits are performed by many engineering industries by first designing a quality metrics for a project and then analyzing the metrics throughout the project development. Quality Audits are usually performed by internal (in-house) auditors or external (third parties) customer involved in the project. Audits can be conducted on schedule basis for example, after each milestone or they can be performed on random whenever there is a need or as ordered by top management.

The main goal of Quality Audits is to identify ineffective standards and policies used and replace them with best practices.

Quality audit verify the execution of approved change requests, corrective and preventive action and defect repairs. [6]

Quality Assurance Plan- Large projects usually involve thousands of activities which becomes complex for quality assurance to track them. So they should be collected in quality assurance plan for their efficient management. A standard for Quality assurance plan is developed for an organization and it is the responsibility of project team members to develop one which should include the following elements [6]

WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)

User Requirements and Specification

Activity to be performed

When to perform the activity

Who will perform the activity

Quality Assurance Output- Quality Improvement improves the value and usefulness of a project and provides benefits to the project stakeholders [6]. Quality improvement not only improves the quality of project management but also it improves the quality of a product by following a continuous cycle known as The “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle [1] which is the source of Quality Improvement. As customer needs changes with time so this process helps to meet their new requirements by getting their feedback on regular basis, it may also help to reduce costs by providing long-term benefits for customer satisfaction.

Plan a change in the right process for getting for improving it and getting beneficial results.

Do apply the change as a test case to test if it gives the desired results.

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Check the effect of the applied changes in the entire system by analyzing it thoroughly.

Act to apply the change to the entire system based on the result of test cases if it provides the desired result. [6]

Follow the cycle for other processes for an improved change.

Barriers to Quality Improvement- Quality improvement bring changes in a product to improve its quality but because of its complexity it is not always considered significant to be followed in every project. It is the responsibility of top management and due to the risk that an improvement change would not produce the desired results prevents the management from applying this policy. On the other hand, long-term benefits produce by the improvement would overcome the short-term risk.

Quality control

Quality Control is the process for “monitoring specific project results to determine whether the comply with relevant quality standards and identifying ways to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory performance” (comp. PMBOK3) [8]

The Project results are usually monitored throughout this phase and if an inconsistency is observed in the planned specification and the actual results, the project team takes corrective actions to repair that variation and take precautionary steps to avoid this variation from reoccurring. These results are generally examined by Quality Audits and the Quality Assurance Plan and Activities are improved according to the requirement. [11]

The Quality Control, therefore strives on the Project Results, checklists and the quality management plan for monitoring actual results.

Various Tools are being used for the measurement of Quality control. Through the use of Inspection and Statistical Sampling, data about the performance of actual system is compared with the quality standards. Cause and Effect Diagrams provides knowledge about the reasons of any deficiencies. Many other tools are used to display performance data such as Control Charts, Flowcharts, Histograms, Pareto Charts, Run Charts, and Scatter Diagrams,[10] the data is not simply displayed but gives an insight of useful information about the product’s conformance to requirements and illustrates whether the quality standards are met. If the quality is not acceptable, a Change Request will be made. If the deliverables are acceptable, the output of Validated Deliverables goes to the Verify Scope process for final approval. [7]

Quality Re-Planning

The nature of Project Quality management must focus on the product of project as well as the management of project because severe consequences can result for project stakeholders from failure to meet quality requirements in any of these dimensions. [7]

Re-Planning is done when the actual target about project management that is defined in the Quality Planning phase seems to fluctuate concerning scope, time and cost of the project which can be measured at anytime at the completion of any deliverables and milestones during the product development.

It is the responsibility of Project Manager that he should balance both dimensions, the product goals and the management goals. The project team should not overwork to achieve product quality as it reduces the management quality by resulting in Employee turnover [7]. Similarly, the three elements of management dimension must be balanced by project manager throughout the development activity. For example, the information technology teamwork project has a preliminary scope of generating a sixty to seventy pages report and one and a half hour presentation on any twenty five prospective IT projects. The preliminary time and cost of this project is set as two months and $65,000. This estimation provides the targets to be achieved for scope, time and cost at the start of Project. Balancing them through the end of the project is fairly an ideal situation which is not always possible as a result trade-offs are made between these triple elements depending upon the importance of that particular element in the given situation and the experienced project manager. For example, to collect at least twenty five good ideas about the IT teamwork project, a survey is planned online to be done within a week with a cost of approximately $4,000 and suppose the survey produced only few good ideas in the given time and cost. In this situation, the collection of ideas is most essential as it is the key input so the time and cost are adjusted for the achieving the desired scope [2]. Re-planning is therefore, changing the initial plans if it is desirable for the accomplishment of Project’s Management.

Fig 4. Managing Quality

APPLICATION AREAS

Enterprise wide Quality Management Systems

Due to the latest developments in information technologies and system design, advance quality management software has been established with the ability to incorporate quality software applications with business processing systems. The open architecture and object-oriented technology is the source of these new systems, incorporated quality management can be attained by connecting system components to the enterprise management system. The modules are associated through a standard interface structure that enables different applications to exchange information. Integrating the quality management system with business automation systems can considerably affect profitability. Such integration reduces the time and effort related with data entry. An incorporated quality management system offers online access of data stored within each system component. Through associating this data into automated reporting systems, management can carry out assessments on serious processes that states a company’s victory. [14]

Automotive Industry

Automotive sector has been active in inventing new manufacturing strategies having to current high level of competition. With this scenario the challenges faced by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) have also increased over the years.

Due to this high level of competition, companies have indeed emphasized to increase the quality in all aspects of products and services within their management system. Therefore quality management (QM) has become increasingly popular as one of the managerial devices in ensuring continuous improvement as to improve customer satisfaction and to ensure its product or service quality. Another dare tackled by automotive industry is the stress to reduce delivery period and cost. Quality Management element with support for advanced features like TQM will help to uphold quality from basis. This receives importance owing to the continuous pressure exerted to cut cost and improve quality. [15]

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Airline Business

The safety of airplanes in service is critical in the aviation business, both in terms of accident avoidance and economic performance. The recent valuation of consequences to the airlines by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has highlighted the challenges faced by the airlines. Lack of compliance tools and insufficient quality management is bullying an unparalleled crisis in the airline business. An operational program to handle FAA ordinance to be used by airlines business requires an incorporated, enterprise-wide quality management solution that includes a dominant acquiescence platform which provides strong domain expertise in airline and aerospace equipment. The best examples counted in providing world-class acquiescence and quality solutions is the Tata Consultancy Services and MetricStream which includes a best solution for airline business in the form of global corroboration and support services [16].

E-Service Quality Management

Today’s Society emphasizes more on the use of modern communication and information technologies. E-services is an example of modern computer application that provides access to online services. Quality Management Systems are required to offer a reliable way to select, analyze, rank and design the right eservices. The growing consumption of e-services has elevated the requirement to state principles and means to evaluate and assure quality. Investment in e-services is a significant step towards improving the quality of life in our vigorous society.

A Quality Management Framework in the context of e-services has the following components: e-service as object (entity), e-service development and delivery process as process, business and consumer as users, specific service request as request as requirements, evaluation and measurement of the e-service to determine its quality. E-Service Quality Management Framework provides benchmarking capabilities and comparative assessment of e-services. It also supports making decisions in improving the quality of service and overall customer satisfaction. [17]

POTENTIAL RESEARCH AREAS

Improve Quality Management for modern development methodologies: RAD, Agile and Extreme Programming

“Rapid Application Development (RAD) refers to a type of software development methodology that uses minimal planning in favor of rapid prototyping. The planning of software developed using RAD is interleaved with writing the software itself.”[18]

However, there can be real difficulties with this approach. Frequent change tends to corrupt software structure making it more expensive to change and evolve to meet new requirements. Progress can be hard to evaluate and problems can be hard to find because there is no documentation to reveal what has been done. Therefore quality of the software may suffer. Without a specification it may be difficult to validate the system. [19]

Improve Quality through Customer Involvement

Quality is not determined or defined by the producing company. Quality is determined by the customer. Thus quality of a product or a service is the customer’s perception of the degree to which the product or service meets his or her expectations. [20]

New Techniques for developing a strategic quality plan

Organizations face a continuous barrage of requests to improve quality. Every quality management plan can, and must be tied to key business process performance indicators in order to have any real impact on productivity and the bottom-line. However, strategic plans are rarely translated into the quality strategies needed to ensure overall performance improvement gains. [21]

CONCLUSION

Project Quality management is becoming a part of every project from information technology to enterprise and different industries for the achievement of high quality products and services. By following the quality processes in systems, the quality can be greatly improved and in order to attain efficient Project Quality Management, the concepts of Project Quality management are also incorporated with the quality processes. The project manager and team should have the clear conception about management for managing quality processes.

The Proposed Quality Processes cover both aspects of Quality, the product of the project as well as the management of project in the light of scope, time and cost. Project Quality Management is suitable for applications related to IT and Management systems.

REFRENCES

Frank J. Koksis, “Project Quality Management”, November 15, 2006.

Kathy Schwalbe, “Information Technology Project Management 4th Edition” pp 289-337.

Neville Turbit, “Project Quality Planning” in the Project Perfect White Paper Collection. June 2005 (Available at http://www.projectperfect.com.au )

Pawan Kumar, “Quality Planning Tools” PMI Westchester Quality SIG. November 2007.

MJ ODwyer, “Quality Planning tools and techniques” in Quality Planning for a Project. April 23, 2010.

Kenneth H. Rose, “Project Quality Management Why, What and How” J Ross Publishing Inc. 2005. pp 40-72.

King Fahad University of Petroleum & Minerals, “Project Quality Management”

Virtual Course, “Project Quality Management” (Available at http://www.pmeducate.info_sample )

Microsoft Quality Angle (Available at http://www.maxwideman.com/musings/triangles.htm)

TapUniversity, “Perform Quality Control Process”. June 15, 2009. (Available at http://blog.tapuniversity.com/2009/06/15/perform-quality-control-process/)

Project Management Institute, PMBOK8 (Available at http://www.softwareresearch.net/fileadmin/src/docs/teaching/SS06/PM/PMBOK8.pdf)

“Project Quality Management” in Project Management (Available at http://www.slideshare.net/guest4408ddc/project-management-3289318 )

Ian Sommerville, “A brief overview of Software Engineering” in Software Engineering-7th edition. 2004.

Ned Greenberg and Leonard Hemphill, “Enterprise Wide Quality Management Systems” (Available at http://www.qualitydigest.com/feb99/html/body_enterprize.html )

“Significance of TQM in price sensitive automotive industry” in ERP categories (Available at http://www.eresourceerp.com/Significance-of-TQM-in-automotive-market.html )

“Effective Safety and Quality Management in the Airline Industry for Improved Business Performance”(Available at http://www.metricstream.com/webinars/webinar_05june08_TCS.htm )

Lorena Batagan, “E-Service Quality Management” in Software Analysis, Journal of Applied Quantitative Methods. (Available at http://jaqm.ro/issues/volume-4,issue-3/pdfs/batagan_pocovnicu_capisizu.pdf)

Rapid Application Development as used in software development/management (Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_application_development)

Agile Software Quality Assurance (Available at http://www.sqa.net/agile-software-quality.html)

Total Quality management (Available athttp://www.promptpapers.com/free_term_papers.php?term_paper=2674386&title=Total-Quality-Management)

Develop a strategic quality plan (Available at http://www.bia.ca/strategic-quality-planning.htm)

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