How to Develop a Quality Management Plan

Entering projects with little consideration of quality can be costly in numerous ways. Let's look at the cost of having no quality management plan. Then, we will explore how to develop a practical quality management plan.

chart showing quality and value trends

The Cost of Poor Quality

So, in what ways is poor quality costly?

First, we may not meet the 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. This is often a result of  poor quality requirements.

The Quality Management Plan

What is Quality?

Let's first define quality. For project management, quality is "the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements" (PMBOK Guide, Page 718)Project managers and teams focus on meeting the customer's needs.

What is a Quality Management Plan?

The quality management plan "is a component of the project management plan that describes how applicable policies, procedures, and guidelines will be implemented to achieve the quality objectives. It describes the activities and resources necessary for the project management team to achieve the quality objectives set for the project" (PMBOK® Guide—6th Edition, Page 286). 

Management develops, publishes, and communicates quality policies. Why? 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?

Nevertheless, wise project managers define the quality requirements. The quality management plan may be a simple one-page plan for small projects and a more robust plan for larger projects. Furthermore, project managers work with their sponsor, team, and key stakeholders to determine what's needed.

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives. —William A. Foster

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Who Should Develop the Quality Management Plan?

This is determined by the type of project that is being undertaken. A nuclear power plant team will be decidedly different from those helping with the development of an accounts receivable software package. For instance, 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. Only include the elements that are necessary and nothing more. The plan may include but not be limited to:

  • Your approach to quality management
  • The deliverables (i.e., the unique and verifiable products, services, or results) and processes that will be reviewed
  • How the quality requirements will be defined for the deliverables and the processes
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • When and how you will manage quality (i.e., make sure the standards and processes are present)
  • When and how you will control quality (i.e., how the team will evaluate the deliverables)
  • How defects will be prevented and corrected
  • Definitions

It's a good idea to look at prior lessons learned. Additionally, engage your stakeholders in the process to get their input and 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 Quality Assurance manager, the lead developer, and business analyst to a meeting. The purpose was to 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 described 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 quality?

The Relationship Between Project Risk Management and Project Management

Project management is "the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project objectives" (PMBOK®—6th Edition). So, how does project risk management fit in the world of project management?

project risk management image

Hand in Glove Relationship

Project risk management fits in project management like a hand in glove. Project managers can use it to achieve their project objectives and goals. How?

Good risk management always starts with clear project objectives and goals. That is to say, project managers who manage risks without project objectives as the basis are simply playing games. There is an appearance of risk management but these individuals are simply going through the motions.

Good risk management always starts with clear project objectives and goals. —Harry Hall

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8 Things All Bad Project Managers Have in Common

Bad project managers create project cultures filled with stress, confusion, and little progress. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are not aware of their behaviors.

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Let's run through a list of eight behaviors that all bad project managers have in common. Furthermore, let's talk about how to remedy these behaviors.

Correct these Project Management Behaviors

1

Too many project meetings

Some project managers keep their team members in meeting prison, and often, the meetings are things that could have been handled in other ways. This behavior leads to frustrated team members who are busy trying to get their project work completed. 


Things to do: Eliminate recurring meetings when possible. Eliminate status meetings - gather status information and share through status reports. Always ask yourself: Is there another way to handle something that does not involve a lengthy meeting? A quick conference call. An email. Instant messenger. A quick stand-up meeting.

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Want Better Results in Software Projects? Try 3 Simple Questions

Project managers crave successful software projects. They dream of crossing the finish line with a win. Project managers want to help their company and advance their career. Let's look at three powerful questions to help you identify lessons learned.

Unfortunately, some project managers fall into a rut and fail to make progress. These individuals do the same things from one project to another project and expect a different result. They take the wrong actions, pursue the wrong things and operate under wrong assumptions.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." —Albert Einstein

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10 Habits of Highly Effective Project Managers

Just because you've been a project manager since the days of "Gilligan's Island" is no guarantee that you are an effective project manager.

As a matter of fact, you may be still trying to get off your island. Even the Skipper and the Professor can't seem to help...encouraging...huh?

So, how can we produce intended or desired results in our projects? Here are 10 tips. Forming habits requires time and effort, but let's decide first which of these would be most helpful.

10 Habits of Effective Project Managers

1

Define what you mean by risk

The term "risk" means different things to different people. Some individuals think risks are negative events (i.e., threats); others include positive events (i.e., opportunities). Whether you are starting a project or a program, be clear about what you mean by the term risk.

2

Define and use a risk management plan

Many project managers and project teams approach their projects with no idea of how they plan to identify risks, assess risks, define risk response plans, implement response plans, or monitor risks. Don't make this mistake. Define a risk management plan and reach agreement with your team as to the approach and the amount of rigor you plan to use.

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How to Facilitate the Nominal Group Technique

How often have you elicited items such as problems, solutions, or implementation ideas from meeting participants? This sounds simple, but often, participants disagree. The meeting can turn into quicksand. Let's look at the Nominal Group Technique (NGT), a powerful technique for reaching consensus.

Imagine that you are planning to facilitate a session to identify the strengths of your organization. What technique would you use to capture their ideas? How would you prioritize the list?

Facilitator leading meeting

What is the Nominal Group Technique?

The nominal group technique is a structured method for group brainstorming that allows every participant to have an equal voice.  It is a particularly effective tool for larger groups.  The technique saves time, engages participants, and improves the probability of agreement.

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What are Project Assumptions?

There may be inherent risks when we make project assumptions. We assume certain things to be true when in fact, they may not be. Consequently, we fail to challenge assumptions and continue planning and executing based on false notions. This can be costly.

An Example of Wrong Assumptions

So, how does this happen? In her book—Thinking in Bets—author Annie Duke shares an illustration:

Suppose someone says, "I flipped a coin and it landed heads four times in a row. How likely is that to occur?" It feels like that should be a pretty easy question to answer. Once we do the math on the probability of heads on four consecutive 50-50 flips, we can determine that would happen 6.25% of the time (.50 x .50 x .50 x.50).

The problem is that we came to this answer without knowing anything about the coin or the person flipping it. Is it a two-sided coin or three-sided coin or four? If it is two-sided, is it a two-headed coin? Is the flipper a magician who is capable of influencing how the coin lands?

In our projects, we may be guilty of this type of thinking. We may assume the world is flat when indeed, it is not. Assumption analysis can help us discover the facts or supporting information when identifying project risks and later when evaluating risks.

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What Everybody Ought To Know About Project Risk Owners

So, what are project risk owners and how should project managers identify and assign them? Let's talk.

Imagine that you are the project manager of a two-year, multi-million dollar project. During the execution of your project, you take a beach vacation.

One of your team members calls upset that a major risk has occurred. You cooly reply, "No problem." You text the risk owner and discover that the risk response plan is being executed and everything is fine.

Is this scenario possible? One thing is for sure. If we don't identify and recruit risk owners, this will never happen. Your project will be at greater risk.

picture of a risk owner

Risk Owner

What is a Project Risk Owner?

The PMBOK 6th Edition says a risk owner is "the person responsible for monitoring the risks and for selecting and implementing an appropriate risk response strategy." Furthermore, these individuals may aid in evaluating their risks in performing qualitative risk analysis and the quantitative risk analysis

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10 Ways Project Sponsors Can Boost Project Success

I often ask project managers the reasons for project failure. One of the top responses is a lack of leadership and sustained engagement by the project sponsor. The sponsor paints a fuzzy picture of what they want, throws it over the fence to the project manager, and goes on their merry way. He or she essentially says, "Let me know when you're done. Failure is not an option." Really?

project sponsor with project team in background

Fortunately, some sponsors know how to hit home runs. These sponsors understand that their leadership is essential to a winning season. They stand out from other sponsors by owning their projects and maintaining a healthy relationship with their project managers from the beginning to end of their projects.

"PMI Pulse research shows actively engaged sponsors are by far the top driver of projects meeting their original goals and business intent." 

PMI Pulse

Sponsors are typically busy senior executives often coming from the C-suite. In addition to the projects they are sponsoring, the executives have many other responsibilities.

How is it possible for a sponsor to complete their project work and still have time to perform their other duties? Let's look at 10 ways sponsors can boost project success.

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What You Need for a Great Project Charter

In this article, let's explore what you need for a great project charter.

John Maxwell says, “All great leaders possess two things: They know where they are going, and they are able to persuade others to follow.”

And, one of the most powerful tools for improving project communication is the project charter.

Think about it—in the project charter process, project sponsors and managers have the opportunity to engage key stakeholders for the express purpose of defining the vision of a project.

Without a project charter and clear communication, people are left to their own devices. And believe me, individuals, groups, and organizations will come up with their own versions of the project. United, project teams succeed; divided, they fall.

So, what do you need to create a great project charter?

rocket

Tired of confusion and rework due to a lack of early stakeholder engagement and agreement? Join me in the What, Why, & How of Powerful Project Charters. Just want the RiskNotes? Grab a copy of my eBook—Start Writing Your Project Charter Today.

1. An Engaged Project Sponsor

First of all, you need an engaged project sponsor. PMI Pulse research shows actively engaged sponsors are by far the top driver of projects meeting their original goals and business intent.

Sponsors are typically senior level executives from the C-suite. These individuals should possess authority in the organization that allows them to secure the funding and resources necessary for the project. They should also ensure that their projects align with the vision, mission, goals, and strategies of their organization.

So, how do sponsors start projects? These leaders see a need or opportunity. For example, the head of the Accounting Department may see billing problems due to a dated bug-prone billing system. Furthermore, the sponsor creates and submits a project charter to the Project Board or similar group for approval.

PMI Pulse research shows actively engaged sponsors are by far the top driver of projects meeting their original goals and business intent.

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So, what do you do when your sponsor is busy and you are having difficulty getting their attention? Elizabeth Harrin provides some great tips on What to Do When Your Sponsor is Too Busy.

2. Engaged Project Stakeholders

In addition, we need engaged stakeholders. Not everyone, mind you, but we do want the key stakeholders involved in the project charter process. Wise sponsors invite key stakeholders to the initial meetings to discuss the project charter and to obtain their input.

When sponsors choose to ignore stakeholders or purposely keep them out of the charter process, risk increases. These same stakeholders will discover the project later and may adversely influence the project. It's not like they have malicious intent. Rather, they understand aspects of the project that they sponsor was not aware of such as regulatory requirements or how the project may affect other operational activities. 

3. A Project Charter Template

Over time, organizations develop organizational assets such as project management templates. Ask your PMO or project management group if a project charter template is available.

The template provides structure and the common elements prescribed within an organization. Keep in mind, you may need to modify the template to some degree to fit your project. For example, you may add your project success criteria to a template that lacks this element.

Online Course: The What, Why, & How of Powerful Project Charters

One of the best ways to reduce communication risks early in your projects is by writing project charters. This is not a documentation exercise! The aim is to ensure that the project sponsor, project manager, and the key stakeholders are on the same page. In this course, you will discover the 16 powerful elements of a project charter, how to use a project charter after initiation, the four project charter checkpoints, the secret sauce of writing clear goals, and how to right-size your project charters.

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