On Quality


The initial statement is Chapter 8 is well said: “Project quality management processes include all the activities of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.”  That focuses on the project, where it belongs.
Thanks also to the team for retaining the introductory sentence to Quality Planning: “Quality planning involves identifying which quality standards are relevant to the project and determining how to satisfy them.”  If Deming doesn’t apply, don’t use Deming.  The project’s standards are set forth during Quality Planning in the Quality Metrics (better term than Operational Definitions) and Quality Checklists if appropriate, and the ‘how to’ is set forth in the Quality Management Plan.  Unfortunately, the text subsequently departs from the focus on the project.
PMBOK® Guide third edition lists quality control measurements as an input to Quality Assurance, as it should, but misstates its purpose: “. . . for use in re-evaluating and analyzing the quality standards and processes of the performing organization.”  The purpose of quality control measurements by quality assurance is to enable the quality assurance team to ascertain whether, and how well, project quality control activities are being performed for this project.  These measurements need to be compared to the quality metrics, another input, (a) to determine if quality measurements are being systematically applied, and (b) to establish performance statistics; e.g., how many times did they fail to measure up to the metrics?  These results are essential to being able to “provide assurance” on the quality of the subject project.  If as a by-product they provide feedback to the organization, well and good, but that is not their primary purpose, let alone their only purpose.
The focus in 8.2.2.2 on “policies, processes and procedures”, rather than on assurance that appropriate quality standards are being applied is a diversion from “the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.”  In my opinion, if quality auditors were to follow this guideline, they would be abandoning their primary responsibilities.
The statement finalizing the introduction to quality, on page 181, correctly states that “ . . . The temporary nature of the project means that investments in product quality improvement . . . can often be borne by the acquiring organization, rather than the project, since the project may not last long enough to reap the rewards.”  Moreover, projects rarely will have funds in their budgets for the long-term effort required for process improvement.  Accordingly, however legitimate the goal, we believe the emphasis on process improvement is misplaced.  It is an organizational responsibility rather than a project responsibility.
We note that the single output of the Quality Assurance Process in PMBOK® Guide 2000, Quality Improvement, is omitted from this version.  There does not appear to be any output that focuses on the quality of the product under development; say for example a new airplane undergoing a quality audit under direction of the US Federal Aviation Administration to assure its airworthiness.  Rather, the focus is on increasing the ‘effectiveness and efficiency’ of the performing organization.  Isn’t the tail wagging the dog?  Doesn’t the project work for the organization, rather than the other way around?
Additional note:  There is a recognition that a quality audit is conducted by auditors from outside the team, either from the performing orgnization or an independent agency.  (8.2.2.2, p. 189)  Moreover, audits may be scheduled or ‘random’, or, we add, not at all. The next sentence states, “Quality audits confirm the implementaiton of approved change requests, corrective actions, defect repairs and preventive actions.”  This statement makes the quality audit an integral part of the project.  We believe the concept was borrowed from a manufacturing environment, and has no place in projects.