Quality Assurance

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Enterprise Performance Life Cycle (EPLC) is a framework to enhance Information Technology (IT) governance through rigorous application of sound investment and project management principles and industry's best practices. The EPLC provides the context for the governance process and describes interdependencies between its project management, investment management, and capital planning components.

The Quality Management Plan is an important component of a Project Management Plan deliverable. The discipline of quality management complements project management with its focus on customer satisfaction, prevention of defects over inspection, management responsibility, and continuous improvement.

Project Managers should assume responsibility for the development of quality policies for the project and the coordination of related activities, in compliance with any organizational and/or regulatory standards. A Quality Management Plan documents this information and describes the authorities, policies, tools and techniques that are specific to ensuring project excellence, reducing cost and eliminating unnecessary corrections and/or changes.

It is important to note that the concept of quality does not necessarily require perfection. Quality is more about doing what was agreed to be done rather than being perfect or even exceeding expectations.

PMI PMBOK breaks the practice of quality management into three processes: Quality Planning (QP), Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC). Overarching these three processes is the concept of continuous improvement by planning, doing, checking, and acting to improvements project quality.

Quality Planning
QP involves identifying which organizational and/or regulatory quality standards are relevant to the project and how to satisfy them. The process outlines the rules that define the quality needs of the project, the required standards for the project's product or service and how it will be confirmed that the planned requirements are provided in the project's final product. Some examples of a QP technique are:

QP is one of the key processes when planning the project and is also important during development of the Project Management Plan. QP should be performed in parallel with other project planning processes and involves:

Quality Management Plan
The Quality Management Plan (QMP) is a formal document that encompasses both QA and QC procedures that address key aspects of assessing project quality standards. It is developed in the planning phase of a project and focuses on the processes used to plan, implement, document, and asses the project's level of quality. The plan defines the project's policies, objectives, principles, responsibilities, and accountability as it relates to project quality and outlines how the project team will implement, perform, and measure those policies. The detail of the QMP will vary depending on the needs of the individual project.

Quality Metrics & Measures
Quality metrics are parameters or ways of quantitatively assessing a project's level of quality, along with the processes to carry out such measurement. Metrics outline the standard that work will be measured against and are often unique to each project and/or product. Quality metrics are defined in the planning phase of the project and then measured throughout the project's life to track and assess the project's level of conformity to its established quality baseline.

When identifying metrics by which to measure project quality against, an established standard is identified and then used to establish a quality baseline for each defined quality metric. This baseline is then used as a barometer to measure overall project quality throughout the project's life. Sources of quality baseline information include:

Acceptance Criteria
Acceptance criteria are pre-established minimum standards or requirements that a project or product must meet before deliverables are accepted. Acceptance criteria are defined in the planning phase of the project and then tracked throughout the project's life to ensure the project's conformity to established quality standards. Acceptance criteria can include functionality requirements, performance measures, essential conditions, regulatory compliance, etc.

Quality Assurance
PMI PMBOK defines QA as the application of planned, systematic activities to ensure that the project will employ all processes needed to meet requirements. QA provides the confidence that project quality is in fact being met and has been achieved. These actions and the metrics used to measure them are defined in the project's QMP. It is the responsibility of the project manager and the project team to ensure the diligent execution of the QMP and to assure the project is performing according to the standards defined within that plan. An example of a QA technique is:

Quality Control
QC is an iterative process that should be performed throughout the project's life and involves monitoring and controlling project results to determine whether they comply with defined quality standards outlined in the QMP and then identifying ways to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory results. To more easily manage quality within a project, especially large complex projects, it is a common practice to define quality measurement thresholds that identify when and what corrective action may be needed to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory project performance.

Quality standards for the project are defined in the QMP and should include standards for project processes, product functionality, regulatory compliance requirements, project deliverables or project management performance. The practice of QC focuses on areas such as:

The main outcomes of quality control activities include:

All projects regardless of the type or size should plan and implement Quality Management as a critical function of project success.

Best Practices

Practice Activities
Quality Planning - Define Project Quality

Quality Planning - Measure Project Quality

Quality Assurance and Quality Control - Analyze Project Quality

Quality Assurance and Quality Control - Improve Project Quality

Quality Control - Control Project Quality