What is Quality in Project Management?

quality in project management

We have covered the basics of Quality Management previously. This is where we touched a bit on quality but in this article we will go deeper into the concept of Quality.

Now everyone has some idea of what quality is. The word “Quality” is often used in our everyday conversations. But when it comes to project management, the word has a slightly different meaning. A formal definition is below,

The degree to which a product meets its requirements

As a project manager, you need to set quality goals and measure progress along the way. In order to do that, you need to understand the quality levels your stakeholders believe are acceptable and your project meets them. To think of it, this is similar to schedule and cost goals.

People often confuse quality with testing. Quality goes way beyond testing. To understand the quality of the product, you need to do much more than just test it.

For example, let’s say you could go back in time to 1980s and hand over a defective iPad to someone. The iPad only has a camera app, would the person from 1980s be able to tell the quality of the product? They may be astonished to see a ‘camera’ like that but to judge the quality of the iPad they need know what all it is supposed to do.

You define ‘what all the product is supposed to do’ in the requirements document. How well the product conforms to those requirements is essentially how high-quality the product is

Three important concepts related to quality in project management are below,

Customer Satisfaction

This is all about ensuring that the end customer is happy with the product. Requirements are written with customer satisfaction in mind. Then there are unstated requirements. Not everything under the sun can be jotted down. So when the Galaxy Note mobile phone started blowing up – ‘Phone should not blast’, was definitely an unstated requirement!

Fitness for Use

This idea was introduced by a quality theorist named Joseph Juran. Fitness for use is all about ensuring the design of the product fits the customer needs. For example, feature phones still have a better market share in rural areas as compared to smartphones. Feature phones have comparatively longer battery life and electric power cuts are common in rural areas. Customers will always choose the product that fits their needs even if its functionalities are limited

Conformance to Requirements

End of the day, the product needs to do what is written in the requirements specification. Both the concepts above should be covered here. The requirements should take into account both what will satisfy your customer and the best design possible for the job. Think of the phone OnePlus designed by taking inputs from their community of end users. This idea was popularized by Philip Crosby.

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