PM4DEV Blog

Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

What is the Definition of Quality?

Quality in project management is defined as "the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs" (PMBoK). If the project deliverables (goods or services) are not able to meet the stated or implied needs of the beneficiaries, then the project did not meet its quality goal.

Project quality is ultimately defined by the beneficiary, and represents how close the project comes to meet the beneficiaries’ needs. The project manager’s goal is to understand the requirements and needs of the beneficiaries and then ensure the project will meet them.

The purpose of quality management is to first understand the needs of the beneficiaries in terms of quality and then put a quality plan to meet those needs. Because quality is defined by the beneficiary, there may be some subjectivity in its definition. But there are methods to make quality more objective. One of these methods requires listing the specific characteristics of quality that are important to the beneficiaries. Then determine the metrics that the project will collect to measure the quality characteristics. 

From there the project manager will develop a quality management plan focused not only on product/service quality, but also the means to achieve it. Quality management is a process that includes quality planning, quality assurance and quality control to achieve more consistent quality.

Quality Planning.  A quality plan includes a clear definition of the goals of the project. This includes assessing the assumptions and risks to success, setting quality standards, documenting processes, and defining the methods and tests to achieve, control, predict and verify success. These activities should be in the project plan and assigned to the team who will report and track quality metrics and document the criteria by which the project deliverables will be accepted by the beneficiaries

Quality Assurance.  Quality assurance uses metrics to determine if the quality plan is proceeding as planned. With the use of qualitative and quantitative metrics, the project manager can measure project quality. The use of tests or quality audits helps predict and verify the achievement of goals and identify need for corrective actions.

Quality Control. Quality control is the review to ensure quality standards. This process includes identifying, analyzing, and correcting problems. Quality control monitors specific project outputs and identifies project risk factors.

It’s important that key stakeholders and beneficiaries are involved in this process, their participation in the quality management process ensures that the project will meet its quality goals. 

 

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Why you should use a standard methodology for managing your projects?

A Methodology for Project Management is a strategy that increases the chances for project success; by giving a clear direction, it saves time and improves the quality of the deliverables. Most development project managers use a type of methodology that was either learned by years of experience or is part of the organization’s policies and methods for project management. A common benefit of a methodology is that that it helps manage projects by reducing risks which improve the chances of success of a project.

 
What is a Methodology?
A methodology is "a set of methods, processes, and practices that are repeatedly carried out to deliver projects". The key element is that by repeating the same actions on every project the organization will gain efficiencies in its approach.
 
What is a Standard?
A standard is defined as "a collection of knowledge areas that are generally accepted as best practice in the industry". Standards give guidance, whereas methodologies provide practical processes for managing projects. Standards are not methodologies and vice versa. The two most popular standards used in project management worldwide are the PMBoK® (from the Project Management Institute) and Prince2® (a UK standard)

What are the components of a methodology?
A project methodology should contain:

  • A set of processes to manage projects.
  • A set of competencies to build the required skills.
  • A set of tools forms and templates to standardize information.

Why use a Methodology?
A methodology is not a magic wand that can be used to solve every problem in a project, but it helps by the use of a clear set of processes for managing projects that everyone in the organization understands. A good methodology, that is fit to the context and environment where an organization works, is able to provide clear guidance of the what, who, when, and how a project should be done.  A methodology also provides a level of flexibility that can be adapted to the special conditions of every project. For instance, for smaller projects, the organization can choose to apply a light version of the management processes. And when managing large projects, it can apply the full processes required to monitor every element of the project in enough detail to reduce risks. Organizations that can manage every project, in the same way, will be able to gain efficiencies; project staff will be able to work smarter and reduce waste. A methodology gives every project team a clear understanding of what is expected from them which in turn increases the chances of success.

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