6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 8.1 Plan Quality Management: Tools and Techniques

There are certain “generic” tools and techniques that are used in any process in the PMBOK® Guide that creates a management plan:   expert judgment, decision making, and meetings.    There are other tools and techniques that are specific to this quality management knowledge area.

Let’s go through the tools and techniques for this process.

8.1.2 Plan Quality Management:  Tools and Techniques Expert Judgment

Subject matter experts are always sought after when creating a management plan; in the case of this knowledge area, experts are sought with expertise in anything having to do with quality:

  • quality assurance (making sure that the quality processes are done correctly),
  • quality control (making sure that the quality outcomes fulfill the project criteria),
  • quality improvements (making sure that there is a process in place to improve quality such as Six Sigma),
  • quality systems (making sure that the benefits of pursuing the desired quality levels outweigh the costs of implementing those systems). Data Gathering

Here are some techniques used to gather data regarding quality.

  • Benchmarking–this means comparing the proposed quality standards of the project and comparing them to those of comparable projects.   This could mean comparing the standards to projects that the organization itself has done, or those done by other organizations within the same application area.
  • Brainstorming–this involves gathering\experts (see paragraph above) together in a format that identifies a list of ideas in a short period of time.  Brainstorming consists of two parts:   idea generation, which is an “open mode” of discussion where all ideas are entertained in order to stimulate creative input, and the analysis or “closed mode” of discussion where the ideas are prioritized or ranked according to a set of criteria that are agreed upon beforehand.
  •  Interviews–rather than the brainstorming technique, which involves bringing all of the experts together with the project team in order to generate ideas, interviews are done by having members of the project team do individual interviews of experts and/or stakeholders in order to get their views on appropriate quality standards for the project. Data Analysis

  • Cost-benefit analysis and cost of quality (COQ)–the PMBOK® Guide lists these two tools and techniques separately, but essentially they are doing the same thing:   making sure that the planned quality activities are cost-effective.   In other words, the cost of conformance to the quality standards, i.e., costs of prevention and appraisal of defects, need to be less than the costs of non-conformance, i.e., the costs incurred if defects do occur.   These non-conformance costs can include the costs of internal failures, that is, defects that are discovered before the product is shipped out to the customer (rework and scrap), and the costs of external failure, that is, defects that are discovered after the product is shipped out to the customer (warranty, product liability claims and lawsuits, and lost repeat business).  There is an optimal level of quality for a project, where the cost of investing in a certain level of prevention and appraisal of potential defects is worth it because it is less than the cost of the defects they are designed to avoid, whereas investing in additional measures for prevention and appraisal would not be beneficial. Decision Making

This is the process on how decisions are made at meetings (see paragraph with subject matter experts (see paragraph and project team members.   There can be tools such as prioritization matrices which can take various alternatives that come up during brainstorming and interviews (see paragraph and rank them based on criteria that are decided upon beforehand.   This objective method of prioritizing quality metrics can help with the process in deciding which metrics to apply on the project. Data Representation

  • Flowcharts–these are process maps, like the 49 project management processes covered in this PMBOK® Guide which take outputs from one process, and use them as inputs in another process, which then takes tools and techniques to create new outputs, which are uses in other processes, etc.   They are useful in understanding and estimating the cost of quality for a process.
  • Logical data models–these are visual representation’s of an organization’s data, which can be used to identify issues regarding the integrity of data used in quality metrics.   In this way a project manager can be more confident that the quality metrics are giving a true picture of quality on the project.
  • Matrix diagrams–these diagrams find the strength between the different factors listed in the rows and columns of the matrix, and are useful in identifying the key quality metrics for a project.
  • Mind mapping–this is a method where a single quality concept is put in the center of a blank page, and representations of ideas that are associated with that concept are put around the center.   It helps with the rapid gathering of project quality requirements, constraints, dependencies, and relationships. Test and Inspection Planning

One of the costs of conformance is the costs of appraisal of whether a defect exists in a product or not, namely, the cost of testing or inspecting that product.   The project team needs to determine how to test or inspect the product, as well as how often to do the test or inspection (once for every X number of products, for example). Meetings

Meetings are a generic technique that are used for any planning process.   In the case of quality management, they are used to conduct many of the other techniques listed above, for example, data gathering, data analysis, data representation, and the planning of tests and inspections.   Those invited can include the project sponsor, selected project team members who will be conducting quality-related processes during the project, stakeholders with an interest in quality on the project, and/or subject matter experts that have expertise with regards to quality.

The next post will cover the outputs of the Plan Quality Management Process.




One Response

  1. The article is very interesting with very good content. Thanks for info

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