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

Quality Management

Who is Responsible for Project Quality?

In general, the project manager has overall responsibility for the quality management process. Some projects may also have specific roles for a quality assurance person or quality experts.

Even if the project has specific people with responsibilities for quality, project quality is not the responsibility of one or two people. It is everyone's responsibility. All the team members, including the stakeholders, have a role in ensuring that the deliverables produced are of high quality. Everyone is also responsible for surfacing ideas for improvement to the processes used to create the project deliverables. Some projects may also have specific roles for a quality assurance person or quality experts.

  • The project manager– Responsible for developing the quality management process and for ensuring that all the goods and services are delivered as they were designed.
  • Team members- Responsible for quality assurance and quality control for each of the tasks and activities they are assigned to complete. They are also responsible for ensuring all the quality standards are followed as designed.
  • The Organization- Responsible for standardizing quality controls and standards across all projects, responsible for ensuring all staff have the skills to deliver quality products and services.
  • Stakeholders– Responsible for communicating their expectations of quality product and services to the project and the organization, and responsible for accepting and approving the delivery of all goods and services

Quality is Not an Event

For Quality management to be effective, the team needs to adopt a continuous quality mindset. Team members need to take ownership of the deliverables they produce and ensure that all project deliverables are developed with quality when they are first created.  Team members must realize that a quality process allows the entire project team to produce quality deliverables, with a minimal amount of errors and rework.

Project quality starts with planning, but the implementation of quality must be carried out throughout the project. A holistic approach to quality will include the following items.

  • Quality Definition, determining the quality standards for the project.
  • Quality Assurance, ensuring that quality is built into every element of the project.
  • Quality Control, monitoring and auditing quality.
  • Quality Improvements, making improvements to the project that will increase quality levels.

The project manager leads the quality management process from start to end and ensures that all parties involved have a good understand of the quality standards that will be used in the project. All quality management processes should be agreed and communicated to all participants.

An important strategy for quality management is to develop and foster a quality culture, by encouraging the belief that the right level of quality is more important than delivering the project under cost and under schedule. Everyone that participates in the project has a role to play in delivering quality results.

Want to learn more? Enroll in the next session of our online course, Effective Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs. Register now and obtain a 20% discount with the promo code 20FPM. Click on the link to find out more about this course.  

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Who Defines Project Quality?

In development projects, quality is ultimately defined by the beneficiary, and represents how close the project and deliverables come to meeting the beneficiaries’ requirements and expectations. The project manager’s goal is to understand the requirements and expectations of the beneficiaries, and then ensure the project will meet those expectations.

There is a predisposition to think that quality means the most expensive material or equipment. However, in most cases, the beneficiary does not expect an expensive solution, especially if it does not meet their expectations. What they need is a solution that will solve the problem the project aimed to work out.

The purpose of quality management is to first understand the expectations of the beneficiaries in terms of quality, and then put a quality plan to meet those expectations. 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 can collect to measure the quality characteristic. In addition to understanding the beneficiaries’ definition of quality, it is important to recognize other stakeholder's interests as well. Depending on the roles of the stakeholders, they may have other quality requirements that need to be satisfied. For instance:

  • The organization - The project supports the development strategic goals.
  • Donors - The project meets the contract or grant agreements
  • Partners - The solution helps them do their job better, faster, easier.

One of the objectives of quality management is to find mistakes or errors as early in the project as possible. A good quality management process usually requires more effort and time, but the benefits in many cases outweigh the costs. The project manager needs to set up a system that collects metrics to make the quality management process work. If the project is not capturing metrics, it will be hard to improve processes through a quality management. The worst case is to have the beneficiary, or the donor, find the problem after the project has been completed.

Remember that quality means "the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs" (PMBOK).

Want to learn more? Enroll in the next session of our online course, Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation for Development Organizations and NGOs. Register now and obtain a 20% discount with the promo code 20FPM. Click on the link to find out more about this course.  

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