Manage Quality and Metrics (9.0.P1)

Quality is ultimately defined by the customer and represents how close the project and deliverables come to meeting the customer’s requirements and expectations.

The old adage about quality being in the eyes of the beholder is true – quality is ultimately measured by your customer. It is not up to the project team to determine the level of quality required for the project. The project team needs to understand the customer’s requirements and expectations – and then meet those expectations.

High-level process flow

This is a critical concept about quality. Sometimes there is a tendency to think that ‘quality’ means the best material, the best equipment and absolutely zero defects. However, in most cases, the sponsor does not expect, and cannot afford, a perfect solution. If there are a few bumps in the project or a few defects in the deliverable, the customer can still say that the solution was delivered with a high level of quality. On the other hand, a flawlessly designed, defect-free solution that does not meet the customer’s needs is not considered high quality. The purpose of quality management is to first understand the expectations of the customer in terms of quality and then put a proactive plan in place to meet those expectations.

Since quality is defined by the customer, it may seem that it is completely subjective. However, there is a lot about quality that can be made objective. This requires first breaking down the generic term of ‘quality’ into the specific aspects of quality that are important to the customer. Then, you look at each of the individual aspects and determine one or more metrics that can be collected to measure the characteristic. For instance, one of the features of a quality solution may be that it has a minimum amount of errors. This characteristic can be measured by counting errors and defects after the solution goes live.

In addition to understanding the customer’s definition of quality, it is important to recognize other stakeholder’s interests as well. Depending on the roles of the stakeholders, they may have other quality requirements that need to be satisfied. For instance:

  • The company – The solution meets strategic goals
  • Buyers – The solution meets specifications
  • End users – The solution helps them do their job better, faster, easier
  • IT support organization – The solution is stable, has few bugs, is understandable and can be modified easily

Managing metrics and managing quality are related. It is very difficult to improve the quality of your deliverables or your efficiency of your processes if you are not gathering metrics. Metrics are used to give some indication of the beginning state of quality (quality of deliverables and quality of project processes) and whether quality is increasing or decreasing. In addition to determining the level of quality on a project, metrics can also be used to provide objective criteria to determine if your project was successful. This is the purpose of the project scorecard.

Click here to better understand the nature of quality management – 9.0.1 Understanding the Nature of Quality Management.

9.1 Manage Quality / Process

9.1.3.1 Manage Metrics / Process

9.2 Manage Quality / Techniques

9.2.1 Manage Metrics / Techniques

9.3 Manage Quality / Quick Reference

Manage Quality / Example