Quality Management Plan - Project Management

Quality is another one of the triple constraints. It's important to the success of the project and helps determine whether the stakeholder expectations were met. Quality can be defined by the stakeholders, project team, project sponsor, industry standards, or a combination of these and more. If your project involves manufacturing a new instrument for heart surgeries, for example, there will likely be several quality standards you'll have to meet. The parts should measure a certain size or shape, the instrument must be constructed of a certain material at a certain grade or specification, and so on.

The quality plan concerns detailing the quality standards for the project and the quality criteria that are used to determine whether the deliverable is complete and correct. The next step is creating and documenting a plan to meet those standards. According to the Guide to the PMBOK, things you should consider before documenting the quality standards for your policy include the following:

Quality policy: Your organization may have a quality policy guideline already established for projects the company undertakes. The quality policy is usually published by the executive management team, and it contains predetermined guidelines regarding quality standards for projects. Be certain to review your organization's quality policy so that you can incorporate important information from the policy into the project.

Standards: Standards are guidelines, rules, or characteristics that should be followed. The organization itself may have quality standards you should know about, and the industry you're working in may also have standards that should be followed. Most industries do have standards, and it's up to the project manager to perform any research necessary to find out what those standards are.

Note:As an example, the Project Management Institute has established standards for project management practices. You aren't required to follow these standards, but they're a good idea because PMI has spent untold hours researching and documenting best practices techniques.

Regulations: Regulations are mandatory and usually result from governments,
institutions,or organizations with the power to establish regulations within their own industry. Regulations require adherence,and you could face penalties, lawsuits, or fines if you do not comply. Be certain you're aware of any regulations that may impact your project.

Documenting the Plan

After you've determined any organizational standards or regulations that apply, it's time to document the quality criteria. The quality criteria are used to determine whether the deliverable is considered complete and correct according to the documented quality criteria. The example given earlier of manufacturing surgical equipment has several quality criteria, including size, type of material, shape, and weight. If these criteria are met, the deliverable is considered complete and correct.

The last piece of information that should go into your quality plan is the quality assurance process the project team will follow to assure that quality standards and criteria are being met. This includes processes used by the project manager, the project team, or vendors acting in an oversight capacity to assure that quality criteria are met. Our surgical equipment example may require inspection by an outside source to assure that the measurements and other quality factors are correct.

When writing the quality plan, note any standards or regulations that may impact the project in the quality plan. If the regulations are lengthy or complicated, you could also reference where readers can find a copy of the standards without retyping all of them into the plan itself. You should also make the stakeholders and project team aware of any standards or regulations that impact the project. A sample quality management plan template is shown in below Figure . Depending on the size of the project, you may choose to recap the project overview as shown in the first section or note where this information can be found.

While you don't really need approval of this plan, unless your organization requires it, it's a good idea to make certain that the project sponsor, the key stakeholders, and those responsible for the quality assurance process have reviewed the quality plan and agree to the criteria.

Cost of Quality

There's usually a trade-off where quality is concerned. It's going to cost you something—time or resources—to meet the quality standards for the project. This is known as the cost of quality. But if you don't meet the quality standards, it will cost you as well because the project will be considered unsuccessful.

cost of quality

The cost to produce the product or service of the project according to the quality standards set out in the plan.

Benefits of meeting the cost of quality include:

  • Customer and stakeholder satisfaction is increased because the final product or service of the project will meet or exceed their expectations as a result of taking the time to measure and meet quality standards.
  • Project teams will experience higher levels of productivity because the quality standards cause them to examine the methods and processes they're using to complete the work of the project for efficiency and effectiveness.
  • The costs to produce the product of the project and administer project processes are lowered because of adherence to quality policies and standards.
  • The project team will perform less rework because the quality results have been identified ahead of time and are being measured and monitored throughout the remaining project lifecycles.

Determining the Cost of Quality

Cost-benefit analysis is one of the techniques you can use to determine whether the cost of quality is worth the benefits received. The cost of rework alone can sometimes drive the need to adhere to the quality plan. Rework, as we've discussed previously, isn't much fun and is generally a demotivator, not to mention costly in terms of salary, equipment rentals, and so on.

Benchmarking is another technique used to determine the cost of quality. As an example, if the project team was able to write programming code for the print functions in a similar program on a previous project in three days, then three days becomes your benchmark measurement for this project.


Compares previous similar activities to the current project activities to provide a standard against which to measure performance.

There are three costs associated with the cost of quality that you should also be aware of:

Appraisal costs: These include costs to examine the product or the process to make certain the requirements are being met. Inspection and testing costs are typical appraisal costs.

Prevention costs: These are costs associated with keeping defects out of the final product. These costs are usually seen early on in the process and include such things as quality planning, training, and design review.

Failure costs: These are the costs you'll incur when things don't go according to plan. When customer requirements are not satisfied while the product is still in the control of the organization, the expenses incurred are considered internal failure costs. External failure costs occur when the product has reached the customer and they let you know that the requirements have not been met. Internal failure costs aren't ideal, but it's much better to discover quality problems while the product is still in your control. You've heard this many times by now, but it's worth repeating. Document the quality plan and file it in a section of the project notebook devoted to the quality plan.

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