Project Management Institute

Quality Management


Quality Management (QM) is a key element of Project Management. It is a simple concept. It involves carrying out a project through its four phases (concept, development, execution, and finish) with zero deviations from the project specifications. The environment necessary to support this effort must focus on quality policies, plans, procedures, programs and specifications. This report identifies the key components that should be used to manage quality throughout the life of a project.

Key Issue

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) must be generic enough to allow for general industry comprehension. Therefore, the nomenclature and language must be recognizable to clients of diverse backgrounds. There are many organizations such as ASQC, ASME or IEEE that specify quality characteristics in technical terms. We, as a task force, have identified general quality characteristics that are understood by those disciplines involved in project management. The American National Standards Institute pioneered this approach for interdisciplinary communication (ANSI A3-1978 and ANSI Z1.15 - 1979).


The original Quality Management Task Force accomplished the difficult task of developing an initial QM framework. As with the concept of quality itself, the QM framework is not a finished product, but a progressive step toward the asymptotic line of perfect quality.

This report is the first revision of the work Pat Patrick's committee initiated in 1986. The 1987 Task Force used the comments and suggestions that PMI members submitted to Max Wideman, in refining the initial report. Our purpose is not to create a cookbook of precise recipes for achieving project quality. Instead, we have concluded that QM should be a reference tool — to be molded or adapted as a project team needs, to ensure that the project specifications or requirements are met. As a reference tool, it contains three main components: Overall Quality Philosophy, Quality Assurance, and Quality Control. This concept of quality management is directly related to the PEMBOK model that follows.

PMBOK Function Integration

The PMBOK structure is comprised of four core functions: scope, time, cost and quality. Those functions serve as the walls supporting the PMBOK. The three QM components — Quality Assurance, Quality Control and overall Quality Philosophy — provide the length, width and depth of the QM wall. (Figure B-3 illustrates this model.)

Quality Management Functional Chart

The Quality Management Function is the process of ensuring that all aspects of a project and its results fully meet the needs and expectations of the project's client, participants and shareholders — both internal (relating to the project's system of development), and external (relating to the project's performance or service). The primary components of the quality management function are:

  1. Overall Quality Philosophy - The involvement of all project participants in ensuring that project goals, requirements and performance standards are in compliance with the expectations of both the client and the project team.
  2. Quality Assurance - The managerial processes that determine the organization, design, objectives and resources, and that provide the project team, client and shareholders with performance standards and feedback on the project's performance.
  3. Quality Control - The technical processes that examine, analyze and report the project's progress and conformance with performance requirements (see Figure B1 for the total QM Function Chart).

We feel that the QM Function Chart can be used to educate potential project managers because it identifies quality characteristics that managers need to focus on throughout the life of a project. In order to fully understand these characteristics, a unified perspective on the process of QM is presented in the following section.

Figure B-1 Function Chart Quality Management

Function Chart Quality Management

Quality Management — The Process

The management of quality in industry has changed during the last decade In the past, quality management centered on the inspection of a product after it was built, with little involvement from the builders. The emphasis was on “catching” defects after the fact. For example, the manufacturing industry one decade ago averaged a production reject rate of 20 to 30 thousand rejects per million. The emphasis today has changed to the conscious planning of the policies and procedures designed to determine and control project specifications with the individuals involved in online production. With this shift in emphasis, the same manufacturing industry averages 20 to 50 rejects per million.

We have come to realize that the definition of quality is simply “conformance to requirements/specifications.” Thus, quality should not be confused with excellence, luxury, prestige, “gold-plating,” or other terms that describe results in qualifying degrees. There can be waste involved in producing a product or service that exceeds requirements just as surely as in producing a product that falls short of requirements. This definition of quality is the essential concept on which quality management operates.

The ultimate responsibility for quality rests with the line organization. Therefore, QM depends on a team comprised of quality resource people and line personnel responsible for the actual production. This team approach requires an Overall Quality Philosophy to carry out the two main quality responsibilities — Assurance and Control. Some essential steps in process of quality management are:

Ownership of Quality Responsibility - The individual employee performing a given task has the ultimate responsibility for the conformance of results to the requirements/specifications. When the individual is provided the essential tools, skills, knowledge and opportunities, he/she is encouraged to develop a sense of personal pride and commitment in the product's internal and external quality. This concept is called “ownership.”

Self-Inspection - The individual performing a given task also performs measurements to ensure that conformance is continually achieved. This provides immediate feedback, which permits adjustment of the process in the production of “zero defects.”

Zero Defects - The objective of quality management, which has been proven to be an attainable objective through the use of statistical process control, is to eliminate deviations from specifications. [1]

Figure B-3

Figure B-3

Statistical Process Control - Statistical Process Control is the application of formal statistical sampling and control procedures that permit very accurate monitoring of the process by which a task is performed, thereby ensuring that the product will be in conformance with specifications. The objective of Statistical Process Control is to determine whether a repetitive activity or series of activities is predictable, and then to enhance the ability to manage that activity in a stable environment.

Statistical Decision Making - Statistical Decision Making is the utilization of formal statistical concepts and techniques to decide on alternative choices, particularly during the execution and finishing phases of the project. Practical examples of these techniques include sampling theory, central tendency (mean or average), variability (standard deviation), process control charts, Pareto analysis (ABC analysis), multivariate analysis, design of experiments, hypothesis testing, fishbone diagrams, cause/effect analysis, failure mode/effect analysis, etc.

Statistical Sampling - The collection of data from less than 100% of the elements in a population, from which inferences can be made and actions taken, is called Statistical Sampling. It has been proven that in most instances, the inferences from statistical sampling can be as accurate as comparable inferences from 100% inspection. Sampling is done in a planned, systematic way, or it can be done so that each sample is chosen independent of any other sample (random selection).

Cost of Quality - The term applies to the costs required to achieve quality management, i.e., costs necessary for ensuring conformance to specifications. It also refers to the costs incurred as a result of non-conformance, which are generally subdivided into internal (those costs incurred before the product leaves the producing organization) and external (those costs incurred after the product leaves the producing organization).

Cost of Quality (Management's Responsibility) - At least 85% of the costs of quality are the direct responsibility of management (W. Edwards Deming, et al.). Management must provide the employees with the necessary Overall Quality Philosophy, Quality Assurance and Quality Control systems to maximize product quality while minimizing or eliminating product defects. [10]

Figure B-2

Figure B-2
Function Impact Matrix Chart

Quality Assurance/Conformance to Requirements - Administrative processes and procedures are necessary to ensure, and often prove, that the scope statement conforms to the requirements of the client's target market and all of the relevant legal, regulatory and standards requirements appropriate for the product or service, including the processes by which it is to be produced.

Quality Control/Conformance to Specifications - The technical processes and procedures necessary to ensure that each step, from the product design through product use, maintenance, and disposition, are performed in conformance with the scope requirements and quality plans to ensure that quality is achieved throughout.

Glossary of Terms

Client Quality Services - The process of creating a two-way feedback system to define expectations, opportunities and anticipated needs.

Design of Experiment - The planning of an experiment to minimize the cost of data obtained and maximize the validity range of the results. Requirements for a good experiment include clear treatment comparisons, controlled fixed and experimental variables and maximum freedom from systematic error. The experiments should adhere to the scientific principles of statistical design and analysis. Each experiment should include three parts: the experimental statement, the design and the analysis. Examples of experimental designs include: single/multi factor, block, factorial, Latin square and nested arrangements.

Quality Evaluation Methods - The technical process of gathering measured variables or counted data for decision making in the Quality Process Review. Normally these evaluation methods should operate in a holistic context involving proven statistical analyses, referred to previously as statistical process control. A few example methods are defined as follows:

-Graphs and charts — a visual comparison of variables that yield data in numerical facts. Examples include: trend graphs, histograms, control charts, frequency distributions and scatter diagrams.

-Pareto diagrams — A graph popular, particularly in non-technical projects, to prioritize the few change areas (often 20% of the total) that cause most quality deviations (often 80% of the total).

-Exception reporting — The process of documenting those situations where there are significant deviations from the quality specifications of a project. The assumption is made that the project will be developed within established boundaries of quality. When the process falls outside of those boundaries, a report is made on why this deviation occurred.

Formative Quality Evaluation - The process of reviewing the project data at key junctures during the project's life cycle for a comparative analysis against the pre-established quality specifications. This evaluation process is ongoing during the life of the project to ensure that timely changes can be made as needed to protect the success of the project.

Function Quality Integration - The process of actively ensuring that quality plans and programs are integrated, mutually consistent, necessary and sufficient to permit the project team to achieve the defined product quality.

Managerial Quality Administration - The managerial process of defining and monitoring policies, responsibilities and systems necessary to retain quality standards throughout the project.

MIS Quality Requirements - The process of organizing a project's objectives, strategies and resources for the data systems.

Overall Quality Philosophy - the universal belief and performance throughout a company, based on established quality policies and procedures. Those policies and procedures become the basis for collecting facts about a project in an orderly way for study (statistics). W. Edwards Deming has said, “Everyone in the company must learn the rudiments of statistical control of quality, not just to solve a problem, but as a plan of knowledge by which to find problems and the causes thereof. It will not suffice to have some brilliant successes here and there.” [10]

Quality Assurance (Managerial) - The development of a comprehensive program that includes the processes of identifying objectives and strategies, of client interfacing and of organizing and coordinating planned and systematic controls for maintaining established standards. This in turn involves measuring and evaluating performance to these standards, reporting results and taking appropriate action to deal with deviations.

Quality Control (Technical) - The planned process of identifying established technical specifications for the project and exercising influence through the collection of specific (usually highly technical and standardized) data. The basis for a decision on any necessary corrective action is provided by analyzing the data and comparing them to system specifications/requirements.

Quality Management Function - Quality itself is the composite of material attributes (including performance features and characteristics) of the product, process or service that are required to satisfy the need for which the project is launched. Quality policies, plans, procedures, specifications and requirements are attained through the sub-functions of Quality Assurance (Managerial) and Quality Control (Technical).

Quality Process Review - The technical process of using data to decide how the actual project results compare with the quality specifications/requirements. If deviations occur, this analysis may cause changes in the project design, development, use, etc., depending on the decisions of the client, involved shareholders and the project team.

Summative Quality Evaluation - The process of determining what lessons have been learned after the project is completed. The objective is to document which behaviors helped determine, maintain or increase quality standards (these might be used in future projects), and which ones didn't.

Technical Quality Administration - The technical process of establishing the plan for monitoring and controlling the project's satisfactory completion. This plan also includes policies and procedures to prevent or correct deviations from quality specifications/requirements.

Technical Quality Specifications - The process of establishing the specific project requirements, including execution criteria and technologies, project design, measurement specifications, and material procurement and control, that satisfy the expectations of the client, shareholders and project team.

Technical Quality Support - The process of providing technical training and expertise from one or more support group(s) to a project in a timely manner. Effects of these groups could generate considerations for future client needs or warrantee services.


1.   Crosby, Philip B. Quality is Free. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1979.

2.   Feigenbaum, A.V. Total Quality Control, 3rd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1983.

3.   Fox, Cindy. “Improving Productivity Through Quality Circles,” Proceedings of the 1983 Seminar/Symposium. Houston, Texas, October 1983, pp. I-C-1,9.

4.   Juran, J. M. & Gryna, Frank M. Jr. Quality Planning and Analysis, 2nd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1980.

5.   Patterson, John L. “Improved Cost Effectiveness and Performance in Engineering Projects Through Quality Assurance and Control,” Project Management Quarterly. June 1983, pp. 19-21.

6.   Patterson, John L. “Quality Management: The Project Manager's Perspective.” Project Management Quarterly. August 1983, p. 33.

7.   Spear, Robert R. “The Paradoxes of Productivity, Quality, and Productivity Improvement in Engineering-Construction.” Proceedings of the 1983 PMI Seminar/Symposium. Houston, Texas, October 1983, pp. V-A-1, 16.

8.   Cox, Dr. Planning of Experiments. John Wiley & Sons, N.Y., 1958.

9.   Rieker Management Systems. “Statistical Process Control.” Rieker Management Systems, Los Gatos, Ca., 1985.

10.  Deming, W. Edwards. “Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position.” Center for Advanced Engineering Study, M.I.T., 1982.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

THE PM NETWORK August, 1987



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