5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Memorizing the Processes (Step 3: Quality Knowledge Area)


 

1.   Introduction

After memorizing the 5 process groups (step #1) and the 10 knowledge areas (step #2), the next step in mastering the memorization of the processes is figuring out where the 47 project management processes fit in the matrix made by those process groups and knowledge areas.    The best way to do that is to first memorize the names and order of the processes by knowledge area.

Here are the 47 processes of project management; the chart indicates how many are in each knowledge area and process group.

Initiating Planning Executing Monitoring & Controlling Closing
Integration 6

1

1

1

2

1

Scope 6

4

2

Time 7

6

1

Cost 4

3

1

Quality 3

1

1

1

Human Resources 4

1

3

Communications 3

1

1

1

Risk 6

5

1

Procurements 4

1

1

1

1

Stakeholder 4      1

1

1

1

 47

2

24

8

11

2

2.  Quality Management knowledge area

I have discussed the integration, scope, time and cost knowledge areas (covered by Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the PMBOK® Guide) in previous posts; this post will cove the Quality Management knowledge area covered by Chapter 8 of the  PMBOK® Guide.    Here’s the portion of the above matrix of 47 processes that lists the processes in the Quality Management knowledge area, which is covered in chapter 8 of the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide.

Knowledge Area Total # of Processes Initiating Planning Executing Monitoring & Controlling Closing
Quality

3

1  1

1

Please note that, as opposed to the traditional “triple constraint” knowledge areas of Scope, Time and Cost which had NO processes in the Executing Process Group, the Quality Management Knowledge Area has 1 such group, in addition to the 1 process in the Planning and the 1 process in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group.

Here’s a a chart which gives the names of the three processes and a brief process description.

Process

Group

Process

Number

Process
Name
Process Description
Planning 8.1 Plan Quality Management Identifies quality requirements and/or standards for the project and its deliverables; documents how the project will demonstrate compliance with quality requirements.
Executing  8.2 Perform Quality Assurance Audits the quality requirements and results from quality control measurements to ensure that appropriate quality standards and operational definitions are being used.
Monitoring & Controlling 8.3 Control Quality Monitors and records results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes.

8.1  Plan Quality Management

If you’re read the earliest posts, you should see a familiar pattern:   the Plan Quality Management process is the first planning process, actually the only planning process, and it is used to create the framework for the other quality management processes, and the output of the process is the Quality Management Plan.    In this case, it identifies the requirements for quality and the standards that will be used to measure and control the quality.     It also does some groundwork in listing the quality tools and techniques that the project manager will have available to him or her during the course of the project.

8.2. Perform Quality Assurance

The questions being answered here are:  are the quality standards appropriate for the project, and are they faithfully being followed during the course of the project? The process focuses on the quality of the processes themselves, and it is associated with the word audit.   

8.3 Perform Quality Control

The question being answered here is:  are the deliverables meeting the quality standards (the ones set in process 8.1 and audited in process 8.2)?  The process focuses on the quality of the deliverables, and it is associated with the word inspection.   

In the monitoring part of this process, the results of the quality control are communicated to all interested stakeholders.   If the deliverable is inspected, and the results of the inspection show that the deliverable does not meet the quality standards, the deliverable is said to have a defect.    There must be a change to bring the quality of the deliverables back into line with the standards.

There are three types of changes that can be proposed.    For those who have read the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, you know that the plot revolves around a miserly old man named Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three ghosts, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.    Similarly, a project manager can be haunted by the ghosts of three types of Defects:   Defects Past, Present, and Yet to Come.    These are dealt with in the following three ways:

a) Defects Past:   for defects that have already occurred, you can deal with them by repairing the defective deliverables and re-inspecting them to see if they now conform to the quality standards.   Alternatively, these defective deliverables can be scrapped.

b) Defects Present:   for defects that are ongoing, you must deal with them by finding out the root cause, and then making a change that will eliminate, or at least mitigate, the cause of the defects.    This proposed change to the work method must then be analyzed to see what affects it may have on other constraints (for example, will it cause the work to take more time, or cost more money).

c) Defects Yet to Come:    if you look at the results of quality control and compare them to those at previous points of the project, you can see whether there is a trend that, if continued, might bring the quality out of alignment with the standard at some point in the future.    The way of dealing with this is similar to paragraph b) above, except that you have more time to solve the quality problem.    However, by dealing with the quality problem now rather than after it has caused a defect, you will be saving the company the cost of potentially having to repair or scrap defective deliverables, like in paragraph a) above.

So the quality process in general is a) choose the quality standards (process 8.1), b) assure through quality audits that those quality standards are being faithfully followed (process 8.2), and c) verify through quality inspections that the deliverables actually meet those quality standards.

3.  Conclusion

The process 8.1 Plan Quality Management has the word Plan in it, so it is easy to memorize that it comes first as a planning process; likewise the process 8.3 Perform Quality Control has the word Control in it, so it is easy that is in the Monitoring & Controlling process group.   The only tricky one for some people is Quality Assurance, which may imply “monitoring” because it is associated with word “audit.”   But the purpose of the audit is to make sure you are “executing” or carrying out the standard correctly.    Thus it belongs properly in the Executing Process Group.

Also remembering that there are three processes spread across three process groups will reinforce for you the notion that there is one process in each of the three process groups Planning, Executing, and Monitoring & Controlling.

The next post will switch to the “people” part of the project, by covering Human Resources Management, which is chapter 9 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide.

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