What is Project Quality Management, and Why is it Important?

Photo of a Project Manager working on project quality management

Most people can agree that there is a tremendous satisfaction to be found when you produce quality work. While what is considered "quality" will differ from person to person or customer to customer, our goal should always be to produce high-quality work.

For businesses, maintaining quality when it comes to project management is incredibly important. Whether your company seeks to provide fantastic products, services, media, or technology, it’s critical to the company’s outward perception and future that its quality levels don’t decrease below what is expected by customers or clients. That’s where project quality management can help out.

What is Project Quality Management?

Project quality management is a process that considers how a project should proceed to achieve the desired quality for the project’s deliverables. It requires project managers to continually measure the quality of the activities and processes involved in the project. In project quality management, standards are set ahead of time to measure deliverables against, and action needs to be taken throughout the project to course-correct.

Project quality management's ultimate goal is to guarantee deliverables that satisfy the needs and expectations of clients, stakeholders, or customers, depending on its end-user.

Most project managers will approach a project wanting to reach the best possible outcome, yet many factors could prevent this from happening. Even with the best team and best tools, a project’s output could fall short of its mark without project quality management measures in place.

How is Project Quality Defined?

While the definition of quality can be challenging to pin down, in project management, "quality" can be considered something that measures up to — or exceeds — the generally accepted standard for deliverables in its category. When you’ve achieved quality, your stakeholders or customers will be happy with the product or service they receive.

What are the Elements of Project Quality Management?

While it may seem like project quality is something you would measure after the project is completed, this is a misconception. After all, it’s no good to review a project's quality after it has been completed or delivered, as this doesn’t leave any opportunity for improvements to be made if it’s found to be substandard.

Here are the three components of project quality management.

Quality Planning

Planning for quality is the first step in project quality management. Before beginning a new project, agree upon what counts as "quality" for that specific project and what needs to be done in order to achieve that level of quality. As mentioned, this will depend on what that customer or stakeholder expects from the project’s deliverables.

During this stage, decide what monitoring quality will look like and document this process. Your project quality management plan should include the steps you’ll take, such as weekly meetings or marking your progress against a checklist, what quality metrics you’ll be measuring against, and what milestones you need to meet during the project.

The big question to ask during this stage is, "Will this process result in a product deemed acceptable by its end-user?"

As the project progresses, it’s essential to ensure the team follows the agreed-upon plan. Quality assurance focuses mainly on making sure processes are being followed, that planned activities are being completed, and that everyone is working towards delivering a quality end product. The way you assure quality will depend on the project, but we recommend using a checklist and running routine audits.

Quality Assurance

The goal here is to prevent problems before they happen by following processes as agreed. While quality assurance is preventative, the next step is more reactionary.

Quality Control

Lastly, it's integral to assign an enforcer to the project who can assess whether or not the desired level of project quality is being met. This person will need to review progress against the plan and checklist regularly. This provides an opportunity to identify problems and consider methods of improvement, including adjusting risk factors and contingency plans.

In addition to using the checklist and measuring against key quality metrics, peer reviews and regular testing can also be used to assess the quality of the deliverables. This process will either reassure you that the project is meeting the desired level of quality or highlight areas of weakness that need to be addressed before moving forward. This allows you to make amends as soon as you are aware of an issue, which is much easier and more cost-effective than re-doing the entire project.

What are the Benefits of Project Quality Management?

Higher Levels of Customer Satisfaction

Delivering bad quality products or offering disappointing services reflects poorly on a company. Whether you’re producing video games for a large customer base or are working one-to-one to provide a bespoke service to a client, delivering quality is important. If a customer is unhappy, the deliverable has failed to measure up to the desired level of quality.

Project quality management helps ensure that processes are optimized for quality and that all deliverables are produced at a level that guarantees customer satisfaction.

Better Quality Products

Even if a customer will be satisfied with a product of mediocre quality, there are no downsides to exceeding expectations and offering better quality products.

Project quality management can help businesses improve processes and create better products and services.

Increased Productivity

Productivity is about more than working fast and efficiently. It’s about building strong relationships between team members, improving communication and internal processes. Project quality management considers the quality of a project’s output and the quality of a project’s plans, procedures, and progress. This means it aims to improve all areas of a project, including its team's productivity.

Financial Growth

Project managers will always aim to keep costs modest while still delivering quality. If, as mentioned above, you can streamline processes and increase productivity levels, it’s possible that the business will generate higher profits. Higher profits can be guaranteed by raising prices due to increased levels of quality or reducing operational costs by eliminating unnecessary processes.

What Tools Can Help with Project Quality Management? 

A range of tools is available that can support your project quality management. Consider the following options based on your team’s output, industry, and ways of working.

Process Decision Program Charts

Process decision program charts are integral to project quality planning as they help project managers identify what could go wrong in a project and create mitigation strategies accordingly. They also help uncover the steps that need to be taken to complete a project and the potential impact should the project go off-course.

Affinity Diagrams

An affinity diagram is a tool that creates and gathers data and information relating to a project and its product. This diagram will uncover connections between data points to help find solutions.

They are also used during research or brainstorming sessions to generate ideas and gather data. Affinity diagrams can bring structure to disorganized ideas and develop new directions of thought.

Matrix Diagrams

Matrix diagrams allow a project manager to understand the relationship between the information in the matrix, which includes objectives, factors, and causes. These are based on an organization’s data, which it helps analyze. There are several types, which depend on how many groups items there are relationships between.

Prioritiziation Matrixes

Prioritization matrixes are used during brainstorming sessions. They help project managers create a prioritized list of items to work through by evaluating issues raised during the sessions against a set list of criteria. This allows project managers to understand what problems may arise and prioritize which ones to deal with first.

Interrelationship Diagrams

Interrelationship diagrams help project managers understand cause-and-effect relationships. They identify possible variables that may arise as a project progresses and uncover what other parts of the project may be impacted as a result.

Network Diagrams

A network diagram visually maps out a project’s schedule. At Forecast, we believe looking at things visually can help provide a more accurate picture of a project and allow project managers to make better decisions. This will represent the critical plan for the project from start to finish and its scope. There are two types of network diagrams: arrow diagrams and precedence diagrams.

The Project Management Triangle 

While everyone involved in a project ultimately wants the deliverables to be as good as possible, it can be easy to forget about quality when you’re stuck in the weeds. The project management triangle, or the triple constraint triangle, can help project managers achieve quality.

The triangle helps make sure that costs, timelines, and intended scope are balanced; while this alone isn’t enough to guarantee a project’s output is high-quality, it can go a long way to making sure costs aren’t too low compared to the scope or that timelines aren’t too short to allow your team enough time to do their best work.

How Forecast Can Help Manage Your Project’s Quality

Managing your project’s quality is no easy feat. There are countless factors to consider, team members to manage, and targets to define and measure against.

Forecast is the all-in-one project management tool that provides you with a birds-eye view of your processes, resourcing, and project progress. This makes it easy to identify problems before they happen, including bottlenecks, poor resource management, and skyrocketing costs. This highly visual management tool not only makes project management a breeze but gives you everything you need to ensure you deliver quality projects every time.

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