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As we progress with Project Planning we must now shift our focus to two very significant aspects of project management – Quality and Risks.

Quality Management Plan

Quality Management Plan

What is Quality?

As per the 6th Edition of the PMBOK; Quality is "the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements, decrease rework & costs, increase productivity as well as stakeholder satisfaction."

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines quality as - "the totality of characteristics of an entity that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs."

What is Quality?
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If you take a closer look at both the definitions it is evident that conformance to requirements, fit for use and deliver the intended value to the customer, sponsor and or stakeholders involved is the true indicator of quality.

And hence, it is safe to state that the fundamental need is to deliver a product or a service that is in accordance with the requirements & specifications as defined at the beginning of the project and directly meets/exceeds the customer expectations.

This also makes it clear for us that Quality is not a one-time activity. It is a fundamental principle that must be attended to right from project initiation through closure.

And yes, Quality is everyone's responsibility right from the top to the bottom of the project chain – Sponsors, stakeholders, Project Managers, Project Teams and the organization as a whole.

Similarly let us take a look at Quality Management.

What is Quality Management?

Quality Management is a continuous repetitive process of evaluating quality and updating processes till each deliverable meets the required quality standards or metrics as defined by the customer or project sponsor.

What is Quality Management?
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As stated earlier, delivering a project with quality also needs better coordination among the project manager, project team and the business sponsor. There must be well-defined and agreed quality metrics, processes and governance in place that explain how quality will be delivered, measured, maintained and accepted by the customer.

Project Quality Management has 3 main processes -

  • - Quality Planning
  • - Quality Assurance
  • - Quality Control

Quality Planning

Quality Planning is much more than striking the balance among scope, time and cost. We know that a project is undertaken to deliver – better i.e. improve the existing product, service and/or process or deliver something new that improves or provides the organization the missing links in question.

Quality Planning

Now to ensure "improvement" is delivered we must agree upon key quality metrics and checklists and baseline our quality. It is imperative that everyone on the project have the same understanding of what quality means for this particular project

As part of the Quality Planning you deploy various Tools and Techniques like

  • - Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • - Cost of Quality
  • - Design of Experiments
  • - Benchmarking
  • - Interviews
  • - Brainstorming

It is very important for a Project Managers to understand which tools suit them the best to establish the credibility of their delivery and quality. This also begets the fact that sponsor buy-in is very important and hence there must be an established link between the tools and the metrics you define as part of your Quality Planning.

Quality Assurance

This aspect of quality management is all about evidences of the quality measures in play. For a typical IT or Software development project it would be your test plan and test cases and the carious testing measures that would be deployed.

Quality assurance is all about continuous process improvement. This includes the investigation or root-cause analysis of issues within processes as well as continual assessment of which steps in a process are adding value.

Quality Assurance kicks in at the very beginning of the implementation phase so that errors and defects are identified as early as possible.

One of the most popular and renowned tools used is The Deming Cycle named after the quality guru Edward Deming and is known as PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Act!

Quality Assurance
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Similarly, Quality Audits are also carried out for structured reviews and improvement of the quality management activities. They are usually conducted by consultants and groups who are external to the project team.

And any issues & problems detected would be resolved via corrective actions approved by the relevant change control processes.

Also do note that quality assurance also covers all associated processes involved in managing the project along with the product or service planned for delivery.

Summarily, Quality Assurance assures the sponsors that safeguards are in place to make sure that the expected levels of quality will be reached to produce quality outputs.

Quality Control

Quality control is all about planned deliverables versus actual. It is a direct comparison of the output with the requirements or agreed goals.

Quality Control
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With the right quality control measures in place you identify the problems and improve your output. And this is applicable to your scope, cost and schedule.

Similar to Quality Planning, Quality Control also uses some common tools and techniques for its effectiveness such as

  • - Cause and Effect – the famous Fishbone or Ishikawa diagram
  • - Control Charts
  • - Pareto Charts
  • - Histograms etc.

The central theme here is data analysis. Continuous monitoring of the identified quality metrics and their performance to identify outliers. And more so to get the right picture to make well informed decisions at the right time and avoiding knee-jerk reactions from the sponsors and stakeholders.

Continuous process monitoring and improvements aids in developing the right processes that aid in delivery of quality products and services.

Risk Management Plan

A risk is defined as an uncertain event or condition, that if occurs has a positive or a negative impact on the project. And what makes it furthermore tricky is that fact that risks can be man-made, natural or statutory in nature.

Risk Management Plan

Risk management is the process of conducting risk management planning, identification analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project. Risk plan contains lists of all potential risks, their ranking or level and priority, the preventive actions, along with a process for tracking them.

There are specific core principles in regards to risk management. When looking to perform an actual risk assessment, the following target areas should be part of the overall risk management procedure (as defined by the International Standards Organization; ISO):

The process should create value

  • - It should be an integral part of the organizational process
  • - It should factor into the overall decision making process
  • - It must explicitly address uncertainty
  • - It should be systematic and structured
  • - It should be based on the best available information
  • - It should be tailored to the project
  • - It must take into account human factors
  • - It should be transparent and all-inclusive
  • - It should be dynamic and adaptable to change
  • - It should be continuously monitored and improved upon as the project moves forward

When first addressing a risk management procedure for a project, take note of the aforementioned principles to ensure that your specific assessment is matching up with the core ideals as defined by ISO.

Risk Management Steps

  • Risk Identification
  • Risk Identification
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    There is no doubt that risks must be identified as early as possible. Once identified all risks must be duly noted in a Risk Register and shared with relevant stakeholders. Not only that, Risks must be reviewed as part of your regular checkpoint and status meetings to avoid any unwanted surprises.
  • Risk Analysis & Evaluation Here you do a quantitative and qualitative analysis of your identified risks. Most importantly, the probability, severity and impact of the risks are evaluated and prioritized.
    Risk Analysis & Evaluation
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    Also, the analysis helps you with defining your contingency and management funds to cater to costs as a result of the occurrence of the risks.
  • Risk Handling Risk Handling is all about mitigating risks. You plan for the corrective actions to be taken to deal with the risk occurrence. As stated earlier a risk may have a Positive or a Negative impact on your project and hence you need to prepare your Risk Responses accordingly.
    Risk Analysis & Evaluation
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For any anticipated negative impact you plan to

  • - Mitigate: Entire focus is to reduce or prevent entirely the chance of risk occurrence &its impact.
  • - Avoid: Complete elimination of the threat. For example, changing the project management plan.
  • - Transfer: Transfer the risk to a third party; e.g. insurance.
  • - Accept: Acknowledge the risk and document it, but do not take any action to mitigate it or its effect.
  • Risk Control Risk monitoring and controlling or risk review is an iterative process that uses progress status reports and deliverable status to monitor and control risks. This is enabled by various status reports, such as quality reports, progress reports, follow-up reports, and so forth.
    Risk Control
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    Risk Reviews are an integral part of your overall project monitoring. The Risk Register I duly updated all throughout to document any changes, actions, remediation done for the identified risks.
    Matured organizations hold separately planned risk review meetings at a frequency determined by the overall risk level of a project.
  • Benefits of Risk Management Plan

    Prevention is always better than cure!

    Active risk management efforts helps you to

    • - Successfully deliver project outcomes with minimal obstacles
    • - Prevents exhaustion of project quality, schedule, resources and costs
    • - Avoid risks and threats entirely
    • - Gain valuable experience to deal with future crisis
    • - Better handle on risk management overall as an organization
    • - And helps build organization’s reputation
    • - Improves overall project efficiency

    In the end, it is very important that each of the Project Planning processes are duly followed with the right intent. This goes a long way in building a discipline across the business unit, demonstrate you care for your customers and are committed to the project deliverables just as your sponsor.