6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 8.2 Manage Quality: Tools and Techniques

There are a LOT of tools and techniques for this process.   Here are the quality objectives related to this process

  • Implement specific design guidelines (see paragraph on “Design for X”)
  • Implement quality assurance tools and techniques (see paragraph on quality audits, paragraph on Data Analysis techniques such as failure analysis)
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of processes and activities to achieve better results (see paragraph on Quality Improvement Methods)
  • Confirm that the quality processes are being implemented and that their use achieves the quality objectives (see paragraphs,, and on data gathering, analysis, and representation techniques)

There are also some “generic” tools and techniques such as Decision Making (paragraph and Problem Solving (paragraph that are more general and are used with other processes in other knowledge areas.

8.2.2 Manage Quality:  Tools and Techniques Data Gathering

  • Quality checklists–these verify that a set of required steps have been performed or to see if a list of requirements has been satisfied.   These checklists are usually based on the acceptance criteria included in the scope baseline. Data Analysis

  • Alternatives analysis–used to identify various options or approaches with respect to quality and then to select which are most appropriate for use on this project
  • Document analysis–this analyzes the following documents to point out processes that may be out of control
    • Quality reports
    • Test reports
    • Performance reports
    • Variance analysis
  • Process analysis–identifies opportunities for process improvements (see paragraph Quality Improvement Methods) by examining
    • the inputs to a process to see if there are constraints they impose on the process
    • non-value-added activities that occur during that process
    • the outputs to a process to see if they can be used to identify problems
  • Root cause analysis–an analytical technique used to determine the basic underlying reason that causes a variance, defect, or risk.   It can also identify the root causes of a problem on the project (sometimes referred to as an “issue”). Decision Making

If there are alternatives being discussed (see “alternatives analysis” in paragraph on Data Analysis techniques), then there needs to be a decision-making process put into place to decide among those alternatives.   Having criteria in place is important so that the various alternatives can be evaluating to narrow down the alternatives that are the most viable for the project.   if necessary, the final decision can be made by votes taken at a meeting of project team members and experts. Data Representation

Here are some techniques used to represent data–they are used in conjunction with the data analysis techniques listed in paragraph

  • Affinity diagrams–these organize potential causes of defects into groups showing areas that should be focused on the most.   For more information on this techique, see the post I did for the 5th Edition PMBOK just on this technique alone.


  • Cause-and-effect diagrams–these are sometimes known as fishbone diagrams, why-why diagrams, or Ishikawa diagrams, and are used to identify the root cause of the the problem being stated.  This kind of diagram breaks down the potential causes of the problem statement into discrete branches.  See Figure 8-9 on p. 294 of the PMBOK Guide for an example.
  • Flowcharts–used to show a series of steps that lead to a defect and are used in conjunction with process analysis (see paragraph on Data Analysis techniques) to identify the processes that are causing the defect so that those processes can be improved using quality improvement methods (see paragraph
  • Histograms–these are graphical representations of historical data.   Used in managing quality, they can show the number of defects per deliverable, for example.   Then the deliverables that have the most defects can be identified and worked on as a priority.
  • Matrix diagrams–these show the strength of relationships among factors, causes, and objectives that exist between the rows and columns that form the matrix.    For an example of a quality tool called House of Quality that uses matrix diagrams, see my post below:


  • Scatter diagrams–this shows the relationship between two variables.   If there is no relationship between the two variables, there will be no discernible pattern between the data points in the diagram.   If there is a positive correlation, there will be an upward-sloping pattern to the data points; if there is a negative correlation, there will be a downward-sloping pattern.   Do not confuse a negative correlation with no correlation at all!   If X increases while Y increases, this is a positive correlation because the tendency is the same with both variables.   However, if X decreases while Y increases, this is a negative correlation because the tendency is the opposite between the two variables.   If there is NO correlation, then as X increases, Y may be all over the place rather than having any particular pattern. Audits

An audit is a structured, independent process used to determine if project activities comply with organizational and project policies, processes, and procedures.  It is structured because it is done based on some sort of organized format such as a checklist (see paragraph on Checklists).   It is independent because it is not being done by the same people who are responsible for doing the project activities.   This is why a quality audit is usually conducted by a team external to the project.   Here are the types of things that a quality audit will look for:

  • Identification of good and best practices being implemented, and sharing of good practices being done in similar projects in the organization
  • Identification of nonconformity, gaps and shortcomings between activities as they are being done on the project and how they are supposed to be done based on project procedures set forth in the Project Management Plan.
  • Offering assistance to improve the implementation of processes (see paragraph Quality Improvement Methods)

Besides looking at project activities, quality audits can also confirm that approved change requests have been implemented correctly. Design For X (sometimes abbreviated as DfX)

This is a set of technical guidelines that may be applied during the design of a product for the optimization of a specific aspect of the design.   hat is the “X” in DfX, and it can refer to reliability, safety, usability, or any other feature of the design that you want to focus on. This is a trending topic in quality in PMI, which is designing in quality so that defects don’t get produced in the first place, rather than trying to reduce defects through inspection later on. Problem Solving

Quality assurance and quality improvement requires problem solving, where you have to find the cause of the defect (the problem), generate possible solutions, choose one of those solutions, and then implement it.   Finally, you have to verify that the solution is effective. Quality Improvement Methods

Quality improvements can be based on recommendations from quality control processes (i.e., as an output to process 8.3 Control Quality), or they can be uncovered during this process 8.2 Manage Quality.   No matter where these suggestions for quality improvement come from, methods such as Six Sigma can be used to implement them.

The next post will cover the outputs to this process.




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