8.1 Plan Quality Management – A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition

8.1 Plan Quality Management

Plan Quality Management is the process of identifying quality requirements and/or standards for the project and its deliverables, and documenting how the project will demonstrate compliance with relevant quality requirements. The key benefit of this process is that it provides guidance and direction on how quality will be managed and validated throughout the project. The inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of this process are depicted in Figure 8-3. Figure 8-4 depicts the data flow diagram of the process.

Quality planning should be performed in parallel with the other planning processes. For example, proposed changes in the deliverables to meet identified quality standards may require cost or schedule adjustments and a detailed risk analysis of the impact to plans.

The quality planning techniques discussed here are those used most frequently on projects. There are many others that may be useful on certain projects or in some application areas.

8.1.1. Plan Quality Management: Inputs

8.1.1.1 Project Management Plan

Described in Section 4.2.3.1. The project management plan is used to develop the quality management plan. The information used for the development of the quality management plan includes, but is not limited to:

  • Scope baseline. The scope baseline (Section 5.4.3.1) includes:
    • Project scope statement. The project scope statement contains the project description, major project deliverables, and acceptance criteria. The product scope often contains details of technical issues and other concerns that can affect quality planning and that should have been identified as a result of the planning processes in Project Scope Management. The definition of acceptance criteria may significantly increase or decrease quality costs and therefore, project costs. Satisfying all acceptance criteria that the needs of the sponsor and/or customer have been met.
    • Work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS identifies the deliverables and the work packages used to measure project performance.
    • WBS dictionary. The WBS dictionary provides detailed information for WBS elements.
  • Schedule baseline. The schedule baseline documents the accepted schedule performance measures, including start and finish dates (Section 6.6.3.1).
  • Cost baseline. The cost baseline documents the accepted time interval being used to measure cost performance (Section 7.3.3.1).
  • Other management plans. These plans contribute to the overall project quality and may highlight actionable areas of concern with regard to the project's quality.

8.1.1.2 Stakeholder Register

Described in Section 13.1.3.1. The stakeholder register aids in identifying those stakeholders possessing a particular interest in, or having an impact on, quality.

8.1.1.3 Risk Register

Described in Section 11.2.3.1. The risk register contains information on threats and opportunities that may impact quality requirements.

8.1.1.4 Requirements Documentation

Described in Section 5.2.3.1. Requirements documentation captures the requirements that the project shall meet pertaining to stakeholder expectations. The components of the requirements documentation include, but are not limited to, project (including product) and quality requirements. The requirements are used by the project team to help plan how quality control will be implemented on the project.

8.1.1.5 Enterprise Environmental Factors

Described in Section 2.1.5. The enterprise environmental factors that influence the Plan Quality Management process include, but are not limited to:

  • Governmental agency regulations;
  • Rules, standards, and guidelines specific to the application area;
  • Working or operating conditions of the project or its deliverables that may affect project quality; and
  • Cultural perceptions that may influence expectations about quality.

8.1.1.6 Organizational Process Assets

Described in Section 2.1.4. The organizational process assets that influence the Plan Quality Management process include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizational quality policies, procedures, and guidelines. The performing organization's quality policy, as endorsed by senior management, sets the organization's intended direction on implementing its quality management approach;
  • Historical databases; and
  • Lessons learned from previous phases or projects.

8.1.2. Plan Quality Management: Tools and Techniques

8.1.2.1 Cost-Benefit Analysis

The primary benefits of meeting quality requirements include less rework, higher productivity, lower costs, increased stakeholder satisfaction, and increased profitability. A cost-benefit analysis for each quality activity compares the cost of the quality step to the expected benefit.

8.1.2.2 Cost of Quality (COQ)

Cost of quality includes all costs incurred over the life of the product by investment in preventing nonconformance to requirements, appraising the product or service for conformance to requirements, and failing to meet requirements (rework). Failure costs are often categorized into internal (found by the project) and external (found by the customer). Failure costs are also called cost of poor quality. Figure 8-5 provides some examples to consider in each area.

8.1.2.3 Seven Basic Quality Tools

The seven basic quality tools, also known in the industry as 7QC Tools, are used within the context of the PDCA Cycle to solve quality-related problems. As conceptually illustrated in Figure 8-7, the seven basic quality tools are:

  • Cause-and-effect diagrams, which are also known as fishbone diagrams or as Ishikawa diagrams. The problem statement placed at the head of the fishbone is used as a starting point to trace the problem's source back to its actionable root cause. The problem statement typically describes the problem as a gap to be closed or as an objective to be achieved. The causes are found by looking at the problem statement and asking “why” until the actionable root cause has been identified or until the reasonable possibilities on each fishbone have been exhausted. Fishbone diagrams often prove useful in linking the undesirable effects seen as special variation to the assignable cause upon which project teams should implement corrective actions to eliminate the special variation detected in a control chart.
  • Flowcharts, which are also referred to as process maps because they display the sequence of steps and the branching possibilities that exist for a process that transforms one or more inputs into one or more outputs. Flowcharts show the activities, decision points, branching loops, parallel paths, and the overall order of processing by mapping the operational details of procedures that exist within a horizontal value chain of a SIPOC model (Figure 8-6). Flowcharts may prove useful in understanding and estimating the cost of quality in a process. This is obtained by using the workflow branching logic and associated relative frequencies to estimate expected monetary value for the conformance and nonconformance work required to deliver the expected conforming output.

  • Checksheets, which are also known as tally sheets and may be used as a checklist when gathering data. Checksheets are used to organize facts in a manner that will facilitate the effective collection of useful data about a potential quality problem. They are especially useful for gathering attributes data while performing inspections to identify defects. For example, data about the frequencies or consequences of defects collected in checksheets are often displayed using Pareto diagrams.
  • Pareto diagrams, exist as a special form of vertical bar chart and are used to identify the vital few sources that are responsible for causing most of a problem's effects. The categories shown on the horizontal axis exist as a valid probability distribution that accounts for 100% of the possible observations. The relative frequencies of each specified cause listed on the horizontal axis decrease in magnitude until the default source named “other” accounts for any nonspecified causes. Typically, the Pareto diagram will be organized into categories that measure either frequencies or consequences.
  • Histograms, are a special form of bar chart and are used to describe the central tendency, dispersion, and shape of a statistical distribution. Unlike the control chart, the histogram does not consider the influence of time on the variation that exists within a distribution.
  • Control charts, are used to determine whether or not a process is stable or has predictable performance. Upper and lower specification limits are based on requirements of the agreement. They reflect the maximum and minimum values allowed. There may be penalties associated with exceeding the specification limits. Upper and lower control limits are different from specification limits. The control limits are determined using standard statistical calculations and principles to ultimately establish the natural capability for a stable process. The project manager and appropriate stakeholders may use the statistically calculated control limits to identify the points at which corrective action will be taken to prevent unnatural performance. The corrective action typically seeks to maintain the natural stability of a stable and capable process. For repetitive processes, the control limits are generally set at ±3 s around a process mean that has been set at 0 s. A process is considered out of control when: (1) a data point exceeds a control limit; (2) seven consecutive plot points are above the mean; or (3) seven consecutive plot points are below the mean. Control charts can be used to monitor various types of output variables. Although used most frequently to track repetitive activities required for producing manufactured lots, control charts may also be used to monitor cost and schedule variances, volume, and frequency of scope changes, or other management results to help determine if the project management processes are in control.
  • Scatter diagrams, plot ordered pairs (X, Y) and are sometimes called correlation charts because they seek to explain a change in the dependent variable, Y, in relationship to a change observed in the corresponding independent variable, X. The direction of correlation may be proportional (positive correlation), inverse (negative correlation), or a pattern of correlation may not exist (zero correlation). If correlation can be established, a regression line can be calculated and used to estimate how a change to the independent variable will influence the value of the dependent variable.

8.1.2.4 Benchmarking

Benchmarking involves comparing actual or planned project practices to those of comparable projects to identify best practices, generate ideas for improvement, and provide a basis for measuring performance.

Benchmarked projects may exist within the performing organization or outside of it, or can be within the same application area. Benchmarking allows for analogies from projects in a different application area to be made.

8.1.2.5 Design of Experiments

Design of experiments (DOE) is a statistical method for identifying which factors may influence specific variables of a product or process under development or in production. DOE may be used during the Plan Quality Management process to determine the number and type of tests and their impact on cost of quality.

DOE also plays a role in optimizing products or processes. DOE is used to reduce the sensitivity of product performance to sources of variations caused by environmental or manufacturing differences. One important aspect of this technique is that it provides a statistical framework for systematically changing all of the important factors, rather than changing the factors one at a time. Analysis of the experimental data should provide the optimal conditions for the product or process, highlight the factors that influence the results, and reveal the presence of interactions and synergy among the factors. For example, automotive designers use this technique to determine which combination of suspension and tires will produce the most desirable ride characteristics at a reasonable cost.

8.1.2.6 Statistical Sampling

Statistical sampling involves choosing part of a population of interest for inspection (for example, selecting ten engineering drawings at random from a list of seventy-five). Sample frequency and sizes should be determined during the Plan Quality Management process so the cost of quality will include the number of tests, expected scrap, etc.

There is a substantial body of knowledge on statistical sampling. In some application areas, it may be necessary for the project management team to be familiar with a variety of sampling techniques to assure the sample selected represents the population of interest.

8.1.2.7 Additional Quality Planning Tools

Other quality planning tools are used to define the quality requirements and to plan effective quality management activities. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Brainstorming. This technique is used to generate ideas (defined in Section 11.2.2.2).
  • Force field analysis. These are diagrams of the forces for and against change.
  • Nominal group technique. This technique is used to allow ideas to be brainstormed in small groups and then reviewed by a larger group.
  • Quality management and control tools. These tools are used to link and sequence the activities identified (defined in Section 8.2.2.1).

8.1.2.8 Meetings

Project teams may hold planning meetings to develop the quality management plan. Attendees at these meetings may include the project manager; the project sponsor; selected project team members; selected stakeholders; anyone with responsibility for Project Quality Management activities namely Plan Quality Management, Perform Quality Assurance, or Control Quality; and others as needed.

8.1.3. Plan Quality Management: Outputs

8.1.3.1 Quality Management Plan

The quality management plan is a component of the project management plan that describes how the organization's quality policies will be implemented. It describes how the project management team plans to meet the quality requirements set for the project.

The quality management plan may be formal or informal, detailed, or broadly framed. The style and detail of the quality management plan are determined by the requirements of the project. The quality management plan should be reviewed early in the project to ensure that decisions are based on accurate information. The benefits of this review can include a sharper focus on the project's value proposition and reductions in costs and in the frequency of schedule overruns that were caused by rework.

8.1.3.2 Process Improvement Plan

The process improvement plan is a subsidiary or component of the project management plan (Section 4.2.3.1). The process improvement plan details the steps for analyzing project management and product development processes to identify activities that enhance their value. Areas to consider include:

  • Process boundaries. Describe the purpose of the process, the start and end of the process, its inputs and outputs, the process owner, and the stakeholders of the process.
  • Process configuration. Provides a graphic depiction of processes, with interfaces identified, used to facilitate analysis.
  • Process metrics. Along with control limits, allows analysis of process efficiency.
  • Targets for improved performance. Guide the process improvement activities.

8.1.3.3 Quality Metrics

A quality metric specifically describes a project or product attribute and how the control quality process will measure it. A measurement is an actual value. The tolerance defines the allowable variations to the metric. For example, if the quality objective is to stay within the approved budget by ± 10%, the specific quality metric is used to measure the cost of every deliverable and determine the percent variance from the approved budget for that deliverable. Quality metrics are used in the perform quality assurance and control quality processes. Some examples of quality metrics include on-time performance, cost control, defect frequency, failure rate, availability, reliability, and test coverage.

8.1.3.4 Quality Checklists

A checklist is a structured tool, usually component-specific, used to verify that a set of required steps has been performed. Based on the project's requirements and practices, checklists may be simple or complex. Many organizations have standardized checklists available to ensure consistency in frequently performed tasks. In some application areas, checklists are also available from professional associations or commercial service providers. Quality checklists should incorporate the acceptance criteria included in the scope baseline.

8.1.3.5 Project Documents Updates

Project documents that may be updated include, but are not limited to: