Understanding Project Quality Management
Published: 05 Feb 2007
In today's world Project Quality Management is of utmost importance in ensuring that project deliverables meet certain quality standards so as to ensure that all project outputs are ready/fit for use. This article will help you to understand Project Quality Management in greater detail.
by Arindam Ghosh
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What is Quality Management? It is the management of the processes of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that project will satisfy the needs for which it is undertaken.

“The purpose of quality management in projects is to ensure that the project outputs are delivered fit-for-purpose. If outputs are not fit-for-purpose, there is every likelihood that planned project outcomes will not be realized, or realized to a much lesser extent. It can be achieved by developing quality criteria for the outputs themselves and by ensuring that all project management processes are conducted in a quality manner.”

Planned, Emergent and Unanticipated Changes

No matter how well a project is planned, there are likely to be unforeseen circumstances or issues that simply cannot be determined up-front. Types of change can be divided into two major categories - planned and unplanned. Unplanned changes can be subdivided further into emergent and unanticipated, based primarily on awareness and control of the changing circumstances:


This is change that is planned and, basically, implemented as anticipated.


Emergent - a proactive response to unforeseen circumstances (for example, additional or conflicting requirements may become apparent and are responded to; alternatively, circumstances may change)

Unanticipated - change that is unplanned and unforeseen (for example, people may use implemented technology in a way that was not intended)

Unplanned change is likely to happen, no matter the competency and preparation of the Project Manager. Governments change or are restructured. New technologies develop and old ones become redundant. People’s opinions or viewpoints change. Changes that involve negotiation or substantial learning (either organizationally or individually) tend to involve a great deal of emergent or unanticipated change. The outcomes of learning or negotiation can be anticipated, but not wholly planned, as they tend to emerge over time.

Unplanned change does not have to be unmanaged. Emergent and unanticipated issues can be addressed, either within the scope of a single project or by translating a major initiative for change (a vision for change) into a number of interlinked projects, rather than one monolithic project. Signs that there is a need to consider carefully the management of emergent or unanticipated issues includes:

Planning to Achieve Quality Results

“The purpose of quality management in projects is to ensure that the project outputs are delivered fit-for-purpose. It is achieved by planning the required level of quality for the project, including determining what criteria will be used to judge whether outputs are fit-for-purpose. It is generally accepted that it is a lot more expensive to rectify a defect or fault in a project output at the end of the process than it would have been had the problem been identified during the development process, despite the cost of ensuring the quality along the way.”

Processes include all the activities of the performing organization that determines quality policies, objectives and representatives so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken. It iscompromised of the following.

Quality Planning

Quality Assurance

Quality Control

The degree to which a set of inherit characteristics fulfill requirements depends on:

Conformance to requirement

Fitness for use

Quality is different from grade

Modern Quality Management compliments Project Management

Customer Satisfaction

Quality Planning

Quality planning is one of the key processes that identifies quality standards that are relevant to the project and steps to satisfy them. It is performed in parallel to other planning processes and is a key determinant in the formulation of other subsidiary planning processes.

There are several quality planning techniques that are used in different application areas which are discussed here. The fundamental premise of modern quality management is: quality is planned, designed and built-in not inspected in.

Modern Quality Management – A Conceptual Perspective:

Customer Satisfaction

“Understanding, managing and influencing needs so that customer expectations are met or exceeded.”

Prevention over inspection

“The cost of avoiding mistakes is always much less than the cost of correcting them.”

Management responsibility

“Success requires the participation of all members of the team, but it remains the responsibility of management to provide the resources needed to succeed."

Continuous Improvement

“Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) of process Improvement Models can be followed for continuous validations of processes and their efficiency in producing the expected results of the aimed output – product or service of result.”

Processes within Phases

“To repeated plan-do-check-act cycle described by Deming and others is highly similar to the combination of the PM Phase and processes.”

Zero Defects

"Maintain a narrow band on standard Deviation based on Six Sigma Deviation curve."

Inputs for a typical Quality Planning:

Enterprise Environmental Factors

External standards, guidelines, rules and regulations may affect the project.

Organizational Process Assets

Historical project data/lessons learnt and policies and procedures derived from them may affect Quality planning. The quality policy, which is endorsed by the senior management, is adopted “as is” or, in case of an absence of the same, a quality policy is developed for the project. Either way, the project management team communicates the policy through appropriate information distribution channels.

Project Scope Statement

The project objectives, deliverables, acceptance criteria, constraints, essential conditions, etc. derived from the project scope statement which contains details of technical issues and concerns that form a key art in designing the Quality plan. Whenever boundary conditions are exceeded, the quality plan specifies the action to be taken by the project management team.

Project Management Plan

The project management plan includes all plans to execute and manage a project. All subsidiary plans form a critical input for the formulation of the quality plan.

Quality Planning: Tools and Techniques

Cost-Benefit Analysis

The analysis that defines the trade-off between cost of quality and its returns are used for defining the plan.


Benchmarks involving actual or planned project practices within or outside the organization in the same application area or outside are used for quality planning and performance measurement.

Design of Experiments

Design of experiments (ODE) is a statistical method that identifies which factors influences specific variables of a product or processes under development or in production. This provides an input in optimization of products or processes and provides a framework to systematically change all important factors rather than one at a time. Such an analysis provides information on optimal combination of conditions that can be used in project implementations.

Cost Quality (COQ)

Quality costs are the total costs involved in preventing nonconformance to requirements, reviews and rework. Failure costs, which may be internal or external, are also called cost of poor quality.

Quality Planning: Outputs

Quality Management Plan

The quality management plan describes how the project management team will implement the performing organization’s quality policy. The quality management plan is an important subsidiary plan of the project management plan and addresses quality control, assurance and continuous quality improvement.

The quality management plan is brought in early in the project life cycle where initial decisions, designs and tests are verified by an independent peer group that may reduce project costs and schedule overruns. This plan is built based on individual project requirements.

Quality Metrics

A metric describes what something is and how the quality control process measures it. The project management team must indicate the activities where measurements are of importance. Quality metrics are used in the QA and QC processes. Some examples of quality metrics include defect density, failure rate, availability, reliability, and test coverage.

Quality Checklists

Standardized checklists that verify a set of required steps to be performed are built in by organizations to ensure consistency in tasks. In some application areas, checklists are also available from commercial providers.

Process Improvement Plan

This forms a subsidiary of the project management plan. Process improvement plans are developed to identify and eliminate non-value adding activities thereby increasing customer value. They set process boundaries, process metrics and targets for improved performance.

Quality Baseline

As the name suggests, the baseline sets the basis for measuring and reporting quality performance and it records the quality objectives of the project.

Project Management Plan (Updates)

Any changes in Quality management plan and process improvement plan through the integrated change management process.

Perform Quality Assurance

Quality assurance (QA) is the application of plane, systematic quality activities to ensure that the project will employ all processes needed to meet requirements.

A QA department overseas quality assurance activities and is responsible for continuous to operate at increased levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

Perform Quality Assurance: Inputs

Quality Management Plan

The quality management plan describes how QA will be performed within the project.

Quality Metrics

A metric describes what something is and how the quality control process measures it. The project management team must indicate the activities where measurements are of importance. Quality metrics are used in the QA and QC processes. Some examples of quality metrics include defect density, failure rate, availability, reliability, and test coverage.

Process Improvement Plan


This forms a subsidiary of the project management plan. Process improvement plans are developed to identify and eliminate non-value adding activities thereby increasing customer value. They set process boundaries, process metrics and targets for improved performance.

Work Performance Information

Project performance information, project deliverables status, required corrective actions, and performance reports are important inputs to QA and can be used in areas such as audits, quality reviews, and process analysis.

Approved Change Requests

All approved changes are documented and analyzed for effects on other plans and the project. They are used in audits, quality reviews and process analysis.

Quality Control Measurements

Quality control measurements are the outputs of quality control activities that are fed back to the QA process for re-evaluating and analyzing the quality standards and processes of the organization.

Implemented Change Requests

Implemented change requests are checked for effects by putting it through the QA process.

Implemented Corrective Actions

All Implemented corrective actions are analyzed for their various effects on plans and projects.

Implemented Defect Repair

All approved and implemented defect repair actions are analyzed for their effects.

Implemented Preventive Actions

All approved implemented preventive actions are analyzed for plan and project effects.

Perform Quality Assurance: Tools and Techniques

Quality Planning Tools and Techniques

The quality planning tools and techniques also can be used for QA activities.

Quality Audits

A quality audit is structured, independent review to determine whether project activities comply with organizational and project policies, processes, and procedures. The quality audit identifies inefficient and ineffective policies, processes, and procedures in use on the project. All efforts to correct these deficiencies should result in a reduced cost of quality and an increase in the percentage of acceptance of the product or service by the customer or sponsor within the performing organization. Quality audits may be scheduled or be random and may be carried out by properly trained in-house auditors or by third parties, external to the performing organization.

Quality audits confirm the implementation of approved change requests, corrective actions, defect repairs, and preventive actions.

Process Analysis


The process improvement plan enables process for continuous improvement in technical and organizational areas. Process analysis includes root cause analysis to identify the cause, effect and provide solution to a problem.

Quality Control Tools and Techniques

All quality control tools and techniques may be used in Quality Assurance process.

Outputs of a typical Perform Quality Assurance:

Requested Changes

Changes that improve the quality of the project, both technical and organizational are the key output of quality assurance.

Recommended Corrective Actions

Actions that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the project and the organization are a result of QA activities such as audits.

Updates the Organizational Process Assets (Updates).

All standards, rule and regulations are updates as a result of any analysis of the QA activities. These quality standards are used during the Perform Quality Control Process.

Updates the Project Management Plan

Any update to the Quality Management Plan requires an update to the project management plan. Existing processes may be updated, process improvements may be implemented and Requested changes (additions, modifications, deletions) to the project management plan and its subsidiary plans are processed by review and disposition through the Integrated Change Control process.



By building in regular reviews of both output development processes and project processes, quality improvement can be carried out throughout the life of the project. Those projects employing quality consultants, for advice on both output quality and/or project management quality, must ensure that provision is made, through both the project governance processes and within the quality plan, to action accepted recommendations.

Quality Improvement in project management within an Agency/organization can be assisted further through end-of-project and post-project reviews that help to capture lessons learned. It has proven more successful when the Agency/organization has a corporate approach to Quality Improvement.

In conclusion we can say that lack of proper quality management in a project increases uncertainty and increases the risk of project failure. We should involve a process for the management of changes, problems, issues and incidents that emerge during the production of the outputs. The management of this process may vary from project to project. The quality philosophy should reflect the overall intentions and approach to be applied with regard to quality throughout the project.

User Comments

Title: Mr   
Name: Moses Musikanga
Date: 2013-01-31 2:12:49 PM
Simple and straight forward, provided good insight of what quality is about
Title: Mr   
Name: Guillaume
Date: 2011-08-08 9:00:42 AM
Very simple way of explaining abstract notions.
Great insight!
Thank you.
Title: Mr   
Name: Christopher Mwangi cpa cps
Date: 2010-11-12 5:09:51 AM
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Title: Miss   
Name: Palesa Labase
Date: 2010-05-26 3:04:40 PM
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Title: Miss   
Name: Ntombi Nkosi
Date: 2009-04-28 5:24:52 PM
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Title: Mr   
Name: Thando Koyana
Date: 2008-04-10 5:27:14 AM
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