Quality management is a discipline for ensuring that outputs, benefits, and the processes by which they are delivered, meet stakeholder requirements and are fit for purpose.
Quality management has four components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and continual improvement. These include procedures, tools and techniques that are used to ensure that the outputs and benefits meet customer requirements.
The first component, quality planning, involves the preparation of a quality management plan that describes the processes and metrics that will be used. The quality management plan needs to be agreed with relevant stakeholders to ensure that their expectations for quality are correctly identified. The processes described in the quality management plan should conform to the processes, culture and values of the host organisation.
Quality assurance provides confidence to the host organisation that its projects, programmes and portfolios are being well managed. It validates the consistent use of procedures and standards, and ensures that staff have the correct knowledge, skills and attitudes to fulfil their project roles and responsibilities in a competent manner. Quality assurance must be independent of the project, programme or portfolio to which it applies.
The next component, quality control, consists of inspection, testing and measurement. It verifies that the deliverables conform to specification, are fit for purpose and meet stakeholder expectations.
Quality control activities determine whether acceptance criteria have, or have not, been met. For this to be effective, specifications must be under strict configuration control. It is possible that, once agreed, the specification may need to be modified. Commonly this is to accommodate change requests or issues, while maintaining acceptable time and cost constraints. Any consequent changes to acceptance criteria should be approved and communicated.
The last component, continual improvement, is the generic term used by organisations to describe how information provided by quality assurance and quality control processes is used to drive improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. A P3 maturity model provides a framework against which continual improvement can be initiated and embedded in the organisation.