Everyone wants to build a quality solution. You may not get the entire budget that you expect, but even then, you typically try to build the best solution you can with the available funding.
Yet, many projects miss the mark for meeting client expectations for quality. I think the biggest reason for this is that the project manager doesn't think ahead about how he or she is going to manage quality on the project. This is the purpose of the Quality Plan.
A Quality Plan is a way to identify your client's expectations for quality and the project manager's plan to make sure that the expectations are met. The Quality Plan can be created when the project is being initially defined or during the Analysis Phase. The Analysis Phase is when you are gathering requirements and so it's not uncommon to gather the client's quality requirements at that time as well. The Quality Plan is also the place to describe the processes and activities that will be put into place to ensure that quality deliverables are produced.
The Quality Plan contains the following information.
- Major deliverables. The major deliverables are listed. These deliverables should already be identified in the Project Definition and just need to be validated here.
- Completeness and correctness (C & C) criteria. This section describes when each deliverable is complete and correct. The more succinctly you can define the criteria, the more likely you will gain approval of your deliverables the first time. As an example, the C & C criteria for a document might include the format and the table of contents.
- Quality standards. List or refer to any quality standards that the project team is aware of. For instance, there may be specific quality assurance or quality control activities that are required by your organization. It's possible that the project team will have to develop certain standards as well.
- Quality tools. List and describe any tools that the team will utilize to help manage and control quality on the project. This could include standard spreadsheets and templates, software tools, development packages, etc.
- Quality roles. Describe any quality roles that will exist on the project. This would most likely include quality assurance specialists and project testers. If you have a specific group or individual responsible for focusing on overall quality, list him or her here.
- Quality control activities. For each of the deliverables identified, describe the quality control activities you will execute to ensure the deliverable will meet quality expectations (QC). For example, you could note that you will be completing a Quality Control Checklist for each major deliverable.
- Quality assurance activities. Describe the activities that will be performed to ensure that effective processes (QA) are being used to create the deliverables on the project. For instance, you could meet with your sponsor to complete a Quality Assurance Checklist at the end of each project phase.
The completion of a Quality Plan is a good idea for larger projects. The Quality Plan provides the sponsor with the overall approach to how quality will be managed and it will allow the client to provide input into the quality management process. Once agreed to, the Quality Plan needs to be successfully executed and updated to ensure that the quality expectations of the client are met.
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