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Quality Management

Quality Management consists of the following processes. See also Knowledge Areas - Quality.

Process Project Phase
  Plan quality management   Planning
  Perform quality assurance   Executing
  Control quality   Monitoring & Controlling  

Definition of Quality

What is quality? There are many different definitions of quality. Thus, the term quality may cause confusion for project managers.

For the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, you need to understand that quality is defined as conformance to requirements. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines quality as "the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements."

Quality management involves ensuring the project meets defined needs. The PMBOK states that quality management "ensures that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken."

With quality defined in these terms, you can begin to appreciate and more readily understand that clearly stated requirements are essential. Requirements should define project scope, describe what is considered to be acceptable quality, and indicate how quality will be measured. This is critical to understand for the exam.

Many project managers do not understand quality in these terms. There is a tendency to think that quality means the best material, the best equipment, and absolute perfection (zero defects). As a result, many project teams deliver additional scope based on impressions of what the customer might like or assumptions that these extras will be acceptable to the customer. This is referred to as gold plating.

As an example, let's consider the Classic Italian sports car -- the Lamborghini.


While you can't deny that the Lamborghini is an elite and stylishly impressive car, don't confuse discriminating taste or personal preferences for what will satisfy the project needs or objectives. Perhaps it is too costly. Perhaps it is not practical. Perhaps it is overkill for what is needed, etc.

In most cases, the customer does not expect, and cannot afford, a perfect solution. And although the Lamborghini may be on the customer’s wish list, it may not offer a practical or financially feasible solution.

Gold plating, or giving the customer extras, is not recommended practice as per the PMBOK. From this example, you can see how such extra efforts can be futile and even detrimental to the project. Gold plating can lead to failed customer experience, cost and schedule overruns, project delays, or even project failure.

Instead you need to understand voice of the customer (VOC), which refers to the stated and unstated needs of the customer. Before you begin designing any product or service, you must know and understand VOC.

Quality must be defined based on objective criteria. CTQs (Critical to Quality) are a product, service or process whose performance standards or specification limits must be met to satisfy a customer requirement. CTQs define what is perceived to be important to the customer. Thus, CTQs ensure you are delivering value to the customer.

CTQs link customer needs gathered from VOC data with specific, measurable characteristics.

So don’t get confused by quality. Don’t let personal preferences and assumptions cloud your judgment. Instead focus on delivering what the customer needs and establishes as important, and not what you think will impress them.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

From Wikipedia, TQM is an "integrative philosophy of management for continuously improving the quality of products and processes."

   TQM on Wikipedia

Quality Planning

Quality planning identifies relevant quality standards and determines how they can best be satisfied. A key concept is that quality should be planned. Prevention is more important than inspection. It is less costly to prevent defects than to fix them.

Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) refers to costs associated with not performing work correctly the first time and with producing low quality goods.

      Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance ensures that project management utilizes the quality processes needed to meet project requirements in a planned and systematic manner.

Quality Control Tools

Measures results against standards. Quality Control monitors specific project outputs and determines compliance with applicable standards. It also identifies project risk factors, their mitigation, and looks for ways to prevent and eliminate unsatisfactory performance.

There are 7 Quality Control tools:

      Quality Control Tools

Additional Information

    Visit the Quality Management Bookshelf to search for books available for purchase.

   "Don't Be Confused by Quality" as published in Project Times, a PMI Registered Education Provider (REP)

   Quality Management on Wikipedia

   Six Sigma on Wikipedia

   Quality Management Study Tips

   Quality Management: PMBOK Perspective

   Quality Management Sample Questions