5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Quality Knowledge Area)

1. Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 8 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Quality Knowledge Area.

2.  Quality Knowledge Area Processes

Here’s a description of the three processes that are included in the Quality Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes.

ProcessName Process Description Tools & Techniques
8.1 Plan Quality Management Identifies quality requirements and/or standards for the project and its deliverables; documents how project will demonstrates compliance with quality standards. 1.  Cost-benefit analysis

2.  Cost of quality

3.  Seven basic quality tools

4.  Benchmarking

5.  Design of experiments

6.  Statistical sampling

7.  Additional quality planning tools

8.  Meetings


8.2 Perform QualityAssurance Audits quality requirements and results from quality control measurements to ensure appropriate quality standards and operational definitions are used. 1.  Quality management and montrol Tools

2.  Quality audits

3.  Process analysis


8.3 Perform Quality Control Monitors and records results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes. 1.  Seven basic quality tools

2.  Statistical sampling

3.  Inspection

4.  Approved change requests review


3.   Quality Management Tools & techniques

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for the 3 processes 8.1 through 8.3 in the Quality Knowledge Area.

a.   Cost-benefit analysis, Cost of quality (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

The cost-benefit analysis related to planning quality is a comparison for each quality activity of the costs of quality with the benefits of quality.    The cost of improving quality come in the form of a) prevention costs, such as improvement of the design or of the production process, or b) appraisal costs, such as the assessing or measurement of quality through testing and/or inspections.   These costs are collectively referred to as the cost of conformance.

However, an increase in these costs should be offset by the cost benefits of quality, which come from the decrease in what are collectively referred to as the cost of nonconformance.   These include a) costs of reworking or scrapping products that do not meet the company’s quality standards, and b) the costs associated with allowing poor quality products to get into the marketplace (warranty costs, product liability costs, and reduced customer satisfaction).

b.   Seven Basic Quality Tools (8.1 Plan Quality Management, 8.3 Perform Quality Control)

These are

  1. Cause-and-effect diagrams, also known as fishbone or Ishikawa diagrams–used to link the undesirable effects of the such as special variation to an assignable cause, upon which should correction actions should be taken by the project team to get rid of the special variation
  2. Flowcharts–used in understanding and estimating the cost of quality in a process
  3. Check sheets, also known as tally sheets–used in gathering attributes data while performing inspections to identify defects
  4. Pareto diagrams–used to identify the vital few sources that are responsible for causing most of a problem’s effects
  5. Histograms–used to describe the central tendency, dispersion, and shape of a statistical distribution
  6. Control charts–used to determine whether a process it stable or has predictable performance
  7. Scatter diagrams–used to explain a change in the dependent variable Y in relationship to a change observed in the corresponding independent variable X

In 8.1 Plan Quality Management, the quality tools that are used in the 8.3 Perform Quality Control process are detailed, and 8.3 Perform Quality Control process implements the tools according to the Quality Management Plan.

c.  Benchmarking (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

If the new project you are working on is similar to projects your company or other companies have done in the past, you can utilize the best practices regarding quality from those projects and apply them to your new project, and provide a basis for measuring performance.

d.  Design of experiments (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

This is a statistical method for identifying which factors may influence specific variables of a product or process under development.   It is used to determine the number and type of tests and their impact on the cost of quality.

e. Statistical sampling (8.1 Plan Quality Management, 8.3 Perform Quality Control)

This is planning for the inspection of the product as part of quality control.   It involves choosing part of a population at interest for inspection, with sample frequency and size determined so that the cost of quality will include the number of tests, expected scrap generated by the inspection process, etc.

f.  Additional quality planning tools (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

These are

  1. Brainstorming–used to generate ideas
  2. Force field analysis–used to analyze the forces for and against a given change
  3. Nominal group technique–used to allow ideas to be brainstormed in small groups and then reviewed by a larger group

g.  Meetings (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

Any time you are creating a management plan, meetings are an essential tool to make sure that all team members are involved in exploring the issues involved in the plan.    This makes sure that all of the bases get covered as thoroughly as possible, but also so that team members buy into the plan because of their participation in its creation in the first place.

h.  Quality management and control tools (8.2 Perform Quality Assurance)

Some of the tools that may be used include:

  1. Affinity diagrams–used to generate ideas that can be linked to form organized patterns of thought about a problem
  2. Process decision program charts (PDPC)–used to understand a goal in relation to the steps for getting to the goal; it aids teams in anticipating intermediate steps which could detail achievement of that goal
  3. Interrelationship digraphs–developed from data generated by other tools such as the affinity diagram, the tree diagram, and the fishbone (cause-and-effect) diagram, they provide a process for creative problem solving in moderately complex scenarios that possess intertwined logical relationships
  4. Tree diagrams, also known as systematic diagrams–represent decomposition hierarchies such as WBS (work breakdown structure), and are used for establishing an expected value for a number of dependent relationships
  5. Prioritization matrices–identifies the key issues and suitable alternatives to be prioritized according to specified criteria
  6. Activity network diagrams, also known as arrow diagrams–used with project scheduling methodologies
  7. Matrix diagrams–used to perform data analysis within the structure of the matrix, showing relationships between factors, causes and objectives that are listed in the rows and columns of the matrix

i.   Quality Audit, Process Analysis (8.2 Perform Quality Assurance)

You should think of the term quality assurance as synonymous with the words quality audit, because that is the main technique of assuring that the best quality practices are being implemented.    It focuses on quality of the processes themselves, rather than the quality of the results as is the case in 8.3 Perform Quality Control.    A quality audit is a structured, independent process and can identify whether there needs to be improvements made in the existing processes.  Through process analysis, changes are suggested and if they are approved, the quality audit can, the next time around, confirm that those approved changes have been implemented.

j.  Inspection (8.3 Perform Quality Control)

The statistical sampling that was planned in the 8.1 Plan Quality Management process is now used to perform the inspections that show whether the deliverables being produced as part of the project conform to the quality standards also set forth in that 8.1 Plan Quality Management process.

k.   Approved change request review

If quality control shows that there is a problem, this is solved through the various quality tools mentioned in previous questions, and a change is then suggested to alleviate that problem.    Once the change is approved, it is then implemented, and the quality control process is used to verify that the change did indeed alleviate the problem.

These tools & techniques are easier to memorize that the ones for time or cost, because in this edition of the PMBOK® Guide, as opposed to earlier editions, the various quality tools are not listed individually but in groups (“Seven basic quality tools”).   The tools & techniques for quality assurance are different than those for quality control, and if you understand the difference between these two, then the tools & techniques appropriate to each of them should be pretty clear.

Next Monday will start a review of the tools & techniques for the remaining 5 knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide, covering chapters 9 through 13.


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