The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

Feb 27, 2010

Quality Planning

Any project should have a quality plan. In reality, very few do. The two main reasons people don't produce a project quality plan are: It's too difficult and they are overwhelmed by the jargon of quality in relation to compliance with standards. So let's break this down into more simple terms to get a better understanding of how to run a plan.

First what is quality? This definition in every organization depending on their goals and mission. Quality has been defined by J.M. Juran simply as "fit for use". H. James Harrington states "Quality is customer satisfaction". Generally speaking we could all agree that the definition is to make sure whatever is delivered is within the quality expectations of the organization. If the quality of your goods are below acceptable quality standards you are on the fast track to closing shop. When your organization under performs there are consequences. Keeping an eye on quality will prevent any serious fatal mistakes. A project quality plan will help you know what you need to measure, what the acceptable outcomes are, and how to accomplish all of this. A project quality plan is how and when "Quality Events" and "Quality Materials" are applied to a project. They are the activities undertaken using "Quality Materials" to validate the quality of the project. The artifacts used within an organization to assist a Project Manager improve quality in the project e.g. Checklists. These materials are used in "Quality Events". Technical project quality is usually judged by asking three questions: Does the system comply with corporate standards for: user interface, documentation, naming standards etc.? Is the technology stable? Is the system well engineered so that it is robust and maintainable? By asking these questions you will get a better idea of where the quality of your program is. A project quality plan needs to includes a number of elements. You must identify what needs to go through a quality check? Typically what needs to be checked are the deliverables. Any significant deliverable from a project should have some form of quality check carried out. A requirements document can be considered significant. Also, what is the most appropriate way to check the quality? If the end result is that a particular deliverable should meet a standard, then part of the quality checking should focus on compliance with the standard. This would indicate a "Standard Audit" could be the best approach. When should it be carried out? Most "Quality Events" are held just prior to the completion of the delivery. If however there are long development lead times for a deliverable, it might be sensible to hold earlier "Quality Events". For example, if development of code for a particular module will take 10 weeks, it may be worth holding a code inspection after 4 weeks to identify any problems early and reduce rework. Before beginning your project quality plan you should also identify who should be involved and what materials are needed. Producing a project quality plan is not complex. It involves identifying all the deliverables at the start of the project and deciding how to best validate their quality. There is an overhead in undertaking quality checks but this is offset by not having to fix things further down the line. Inevitably, the later you find a problem, the longer it takes to fix.

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