When it’s time to figure out how to approach quality management on your projects, you need to start from the top down. Step 1 is to establish a quality policy and high-level approach that applies consistently across all projects in the organization. If you are lucky, your organization already has a corporate quality policy for you to follow and comply with at the project level. Once you are familiar with this organizational picture for quality and have thought about its impacts on your projects, it’s time to figure out the project-focused details.
So let’s take a look at this big picture, and how we might build a quality management policy or standard aligned with PRINCE2. This is one level higher than your quality management strategy for your individual projects. When you are looking at the requirements for quality management, be sure that they clearly apply to any aspect of programs, projects, processes and operations that have the potential to impact the quality of the organization’s products and services. You need to build a high-level quality management approach for use on every project, define responsibilities of management and staff, set up the cycle for ensuring and improving quality outcomes, and decide the quality-focused details for your project-level plans needed for implementation and maintenance.
Your quality approach and policy should align with the PRINCE2 approach to quality, ensuing that every project’s products are fit for purpose. In other words, the focus of quality is on each product’s ability to meet its requirements. PRINCE2 contains product-focused elements of quality planning, quality control and quality assurance. Two types of quality methods are advocated: ‘in process’ methods that build quality into products as they are developed and ‘appraisal’ methods used to assess if finished products are complete and fit for purpose.
A quality policy should be clearly stated and adopted for quality management across all projects. For example, a corporate quality policy statement might read as follows: Quality is the cornerstone of all of our activities. We provide our customers with high quality products and services using processes and systems that are continuously improved.
You also need a Quality Management System (QMS). A QMS consists of requirements, as defined in your quality policy (and supported by a quality manual and PRINCE2) which intertwine and cascade through all organizational functions. These requirements are further defined in policies, standards, procedures, manuals, guides, and other QMS documentation. The organization targets quality project outcomes through using the QMS – establishing standards for planning for quality outcomes, executing planned activities, monitoring results and trends of activities, and acting to correct or improve them. This results in a quality cycle of Plan-Execute-Monitor-Improve.
Each project should determine their PRINCE2 processes needed to fulfill requirements of this high-level quality management policy and approach. Each project will define their Quality Management Strategy, defining the project scope and the quality criteria against which the project’s products will be assessed. Quality records and quality log entries should be generated to provide evidence that established QMS documentation was followed for each project. Records shall be maintained according to your organization’s document management policy and controlled to the degree necessary for their proper use.
You can check out some of my earlier posts that deal with project and product quality in more detail.
Remember, a copy of the PRINCE2 method is required reference material in any project manager’s bookshelf! The method is documented in the OGC publication “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2” which is officially published by TSO. Serious project managers seeking to enhance their knowledge, skills and professional credibility target should consider PRINCE2 certification. Learning Tree offers two excellent certification courses for folks interested in becoming a Certified Practitioner of PRINCE2 or simply starting with the Foundation Certification.