What is quality and how to implement it into the projects we manage? How to ensure our projects are of quality? Do you know how to measure it?
Hey Crizpers, today let’s look into the definition of quality and let’s try to apply it to our projects. How could we take care of quality in projects and to make sure we are compliant with the certain quality standards? And are there any multi-applicable standards we should consider?
What is Quality
First of all, let’s see, what quality is. According to Wiki:
Quality is a perceptual, conditional, and somewhat subjective attribute and may be understood differently by different people.
This is a general definition, as I am trying not to addict to any specific area or industry. The main point here is that the meaning of quality is different for people and we do not have a common understanding of quality with others by default.
We cannot just say our project or product is cool and amazing. The reasonable question would be: Cool and amazing against what? How do we know it is amazing?
Thus, to ensure whether the product is great or not, there should be certain measurable criteria that we are estimating against to.
Quality is a confirmation we are aligned with the certain standards or surpassing them. For instance, our website is loading less than 0.1 seconds which is 50% faster than websites of our competitors; we are on the latest version of PHP; our product security measures corresponds to the global standards, etc. We need to use some guide or beacon that is widely known or at least set up internally to confirm our level of Quality.
Where the Quality Starts
Are there any dependencies for reaching out the desired level of quality? Well yes, I doubts that having a badly sifted flour you will bake a magnificent bread loaf.
What I am saying is that quality is not something that we are trying to get in the very end only by measuring the final outcome.
To comply with the certain level we need to implement quality into the project and the product in general. And this means we are to use the high-quality resources that we are able to afford within the budget from the very start.
Having bad materials will likely lead us to not the top-level product in the end. Or with the great materials but with the bad qualifications there is a huge change to spoil the materials and not to get the result at all.
How could we get good materials and skilled resources? By procuring them and by hiring the qualified people. Or by educating the resources we already have and by evolving their skills internally.
Therefore, the product quality is not starting from the project kick-off. It is somewhere much earlier. In the HR and Operations. Or even in the company fundamentals.
And is the project delivery the end of quality? I don’t think so. We are pushing the product to the market. Thus, Marketing and Sales should perform well and provide a high-quality service too.
How to maintain the product? What if the support team is not providing a sufficient service? Would having a quality product and not efficient support lead customers to still love it?
Global Quality Standards
Should we refer to the certain global standards in order to comply with, we can find a number of option to consider.
There are multiple world quality standards, and moreover, many of them are specific to the certain industry. I would example a couple of the most common ones.
International Organization of Standardization is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 164 national standard bodies. It is aiming to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards.
ISO provides and verifies global standards for several application fields, such as language and currency codes standards, medical devices standards, risk management, energy management, information security management and etc.
In other words, it is a certification for organizations that confirms the company has the appropriate built-in processes to comply with the necessary level of quality. It is globally recognized, thus if a company says it has an ISO cert it already proves the certain level of standards they have built into the company culture and maintain them.
Six Sigma (6σ) is a set of techniques and tools for process the improvement.
Lean Six Sigma is a globally recognized certification for individuals who is proficient in the operations optimization and processes improvement. There are several belts of the certification starting from White trough Yellow, Green, Black, Master Black and completing with the Six Sigma Champion Belt. They could complement the list of certs that was provided as opportunities for the Project Managers here.
The companies who are seeking for the specialists to improve the internal processes and to implement quality into the company culture could consider working with the professionals who possess the Six Sigma Belts.
Kaizen is a concept that is referring to the continues improvement of the business processes within the company. This continues improvement flow involves all the employees from CEO to the line workers and touches all the roles functions. This approach is applicable to all the industries, from healthcare to banking and aims to eliminate waste on all the stages of the production.
This study is also available for the certification of individual professionals who is going to lead the internal company processed improvements and optimization.
I am trying to show that quality is an internal company procedure that requires all the company to work synchronously in order to deliver products of a great quality. We need to design the built-in quality and to implement quality into the company culture.
However, from the project management perspectives, the first touch is often starts with the product. Of course, we should keep defects and errors out of the customers hands and implement quality into every project.
We could start from the requirements. Initially we are to identify the criteria we need to comply with by the project delivery and take them as quality measures. A good move is to list them separately form the overall catalogue of requirements and to agree on the success criteria with the customer and the key stakeholders. It is important to have a common understanding of quality for the project, and to clear this up from the very beginning.
Once the list of criteria is ready, we are to design how to implement the quality into the project development so that we would be able to benchmark. What tools, materials, skills and procedures are required to deliver the high-quality product? This is the quality management planning.
I don’t think that having only a mobile developer on board you would be able to quickly and properly deliver a desktop application, or to build a house having a single shovel. And most likely having an old and bald brush the painter will not provide a purely painted wall.
What would be the assurance procedure? Do you have a code review, are there any quality assurance engineers involved? How they are going to verify the quality level? What are the acceptance criteria for passing the verification? If the customer ordered to have blue walls, how are you going to check whether they are really blue.
As mentioned, quality is built not only into the individual project, but is the company culture. Thus if you need to improve workflow or implement new processes, these are the quality improvement activities. We are having quality within the company habits.
From the project management perspectives, we are working towards the quality implementation within the projects constantly. Starting from the very beginning we are identifying the quality criteria from the requirements. Making sure we are having the necessary quality level resources to develop and deliver the product that will comply with the defined criteria. We are designing a built-in quality.
During the delivery process we are working to maintain the quality in the procedures and improving them when needed. Once completed, we are supporting the quality verification actions. We are keeping errors off the customers’ hands and confirming the compliance with the measurable criteria that are called to satisfy the customers’ needs.
All what we do is aimed to meet the quality standards and to deliver a high-quality solution.
Let me know your thoughts on the quality implementation into the company culture and the project delivery processes. Do you think there are any additional aspects that should be considered in terms of quality?