Entering projects with little consideration to quality can be costly in numerous ways. Let’s look at the project risks when there is no quality management plan.
First, we may not meet customer’s needs and expectations.
Second, the cost of corrective action and defect repair may be higher than expected.
Third, the cost of quality after the project may be higher and may decrease customer confidence.
Fourth, project communication may be more challenging since people expect different things.
Fifth, your team’s morale may suffer. Nobody likes missing deadlines due to rework resulting from the failure to understand the quality requirements.
The Quality Management Plan
What is Quality?
Before we discuss the quality management plan, let’s get our arms around the concept of quality. For many people, quality is a nebulous term. For project management, quality is “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.” Project managers and teams focus on meeting the customer’s needs.
When you get a haircut, do you tell your hairdresser the style and length that you expect? Sure you do. If you get a different length than asked for, does it matter? You bet – the degree to which your requirements are met matters.
What is a Quality Management Plan?
The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) says, “The quality management plan is a component of the project management plan that describes how the organization’s quality policies will be implemented. It describes how the project management team plans to meet the quality requirements set for the project.”
The management of organizations develop, publish, and communicate quality policies to support the achievement of the organization’s objectives and values. For example, Nestle has a Quality Policy which includes: “Strive for zero defects and no waste by constantly looking for opportunities to apply our continuous improvement approach to deliver competitive advantage.”
What if your organization has no formal quality policy? Wise project managers understand the benefits of discussing and defining the quality requirements for their projects. The quality management plan may be a simple one-page plan for small projects and a more robust plan for larger projects. Project managers work with their sponsor, team, and key stakeholders to determine what’s expected. Just the fact that you thought about it goes a long way.
You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. -Yogi Berra
Who Should Be Involved?
This is determined by the type of project that is being undertaken. The people involved in creating a quality management plan for the development of a nuclear power plant will be decidedly different from those helping with the development of an accounts receivable software package. With this in mind, here are some candidates:
- Project manager
- Selected team members
- Selected stakeholders from quality assurance, legal, and the operations (to name a few)
- Customer representatives (if the project is being undertaken to create a product or service for a customer)
What Should Be Included?
The Quality Management Plan should be fitting to each project. That is to say, only include the elements that are necessary and nothing more. The plan may include but not be limited to:
- Your approach to quality management
- Roles and responsibilities
- How the quality requirements will be determined for both the product as well as processes
- When and how quality will be assured
- When and how quality will be controlled
It’s a good idea to look at prior lessons learned to guide the formation of your plan. Engage your stakeholders in the process to get their input (and their buy-in).
A Real World Quality Management Plan
Susie, a project manager, was asked to manage a software development project. She invited her sponsor, the QA manager, the lead developer, and business analyst to a meeting to discuss and develop the quality management plan.
Susie asked the business analyst to share his recommended approach for developing and managing the requirements. Next, she asked the lead developer about the designs, unit testing, function testing, and integration testing. Susie invited the QA manager to help determine the testing plans including the individuals who would perform the tests, the order of the tests, the test environments, and the tracking of defects. Lastly, Susie said that the team would use a traceability matrix to trace the requirements through each phase of the project. All of this information was captured in a simple quality management plan.
In your next project, think about your approach to quality management. What are one or two steps that you will take to further improve the engagement, collaboration, and communication on quality?
Question: What other tips do you have for creating a quality management plan?
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