The Importance of Quality Planning within Project Plans
Quality Planning Requirements in Project Plans
As with most project management activities, the strength of your planning will dictate the strength of your outcomes. The more trusted, informed and reliable information you can add to your planning process, the better.
To be effective, a quality project plan requires several basic inputs to ensure the proper information is gathered prior to moving forward to the next project stage. These include these key documents or resources:
Project Management Plan
A project management plan is needed to show how the project is to be executed, monitored controlled, and closed.
Project Statement of Work (SOW)
Statements of Work document the product requirements and characteristics of the product or service that the project will be undertaken to create. This is normally extracted from the Scope Documents.
This document will normally contain the project acceptance criteria (which includes performance and acceptance standards). This is a critical source of information when determining what the quality standards of your project need to be.
Organisational Process Assets
Organisational standard processes, such as standards, policies, standard product and project life cycles, and quality policies and operating procedures (e.g., process audits, improvement targets, checklists, quality guidelines and standardized process definitions for use in the organisation) are key project background information.
It is critically important you take the time to investigate your organisational requirements, to capture the standards you will need to maintain/enforce within the specific project.
Enterprise Environmental Factors
Governmental or industry standards (e.g., regulatory agency regulations, product standards, quality standards, and workmanship standards) also need to be reviewed and used to determine the impact on expected project quality outputs.
What is Involved in Project Quality Planning
Quality planning involves identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them. You will not always have the subject matter expertise to make this determination yourself as the Project Manager, and you will need to seek the advice and experience of experts, team members, relevant stake holders and the Project Sponsor as needed.
Remember, any required changes in the product or project goal to meet identified quality standards may (and likely will) require cost or schedule adjustments, or the desired product quality may require a detailed risk analysis of an identified problem.
In determining the level of quality required, you will likely need to consider:
Quality planning must consider cost-benefits trade-offs. The primary benefit of meeting quality requirements is less rework, which means higher productivity, lower costs, and increased stakeholder satisfaction. This decision can be influenced by providing examples of the costs and ramifications of poor quality and the need to rework aspects of the project.
Cost of Quality (COQ)
Quality costs are the total costs incurred by investment in preventing non-conformance to requirements, appraising the product or service for conformance to requirements, and failing to meet requirements (rework). These are known as the Cost of Conformance and the Cost of Non-conformance.
The cost of preventing mistakes is usually less than the cost of correcting them.
Capturing Quality Standards
It is important to note that Quality is a subjective measure, often meaning different things to different people. In quality planning, the level of quality required of each of the project deliverables needs to be determined and agreed with key stakeholders before the project commences.
Once you know what the standard is and how it will be measured you can create a quality framework to monitor and control the project’s output.
Using the Work Breakdown Structure as a starting point, you should identify with your key stakeholders, where and how it is most appropriate to verify that quality objectives have been met in order to ensure the success of the project.
The quality of the outcomes of the project is linked to the processes introduced to ensure quality. Specific quality factors for your project deliverables may include:
- Acceptable Tolerances and Variations to Specifications
- Explicit and implicit performance expectations
- Product and Service Expectations
- Australian and International Standards
- Industry and organisational policies and practices
- Legislation and regulation requirements
Once you have successfully evaluated and considered these areas, you will be ready to create the Quality Management Plan. This plan describes how the project management team will implement the performing organisation’s quality policy. It provides input to the overall project management plan and must address Quality Control (QC), Quality Assurance (QA), and continuous process improvement for the project.
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