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PMP Exam Cram: Explore More Elements of Project Planning

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Additional planning processes beyond scope, schedule and cost are equally important and establish the mechanisms to apply quality, stakeholder assignment, project information management (communication), reality (risk), and procurement assignment to those baselines. In this chapter, Michael G. Solomon discusses these aspects of project planning.
This chapter is from the book

The main components of the project management plan are the primary drivers that establish key project baselines (scope, schedule, and cost). Additional planning processes are equally important and establish the mechanisms to apply quality, stakeholder assignment, project information management (communication), reality (risk), and procurement assignment to those baselines. These plans include items such as the following:

  • Quality management plan—This plan describes how the team will implement the quality policy. It addresses quality control, quality assurance, and continuous improvement.
  • Human Resources management plan—Describes when and how Human Resource requirements will be met, including acquisition approach, timing, training, and recognition.
  • Communication management plan—Describes how communication requirements will be met, including stakeholder communication, communication responsibility, communication timing, and techniques.
  • Risk management plan—This plan describes how risk management activities will be performed, including methodology, responsibility, cost, timing, and definitions for risk categories, probabilities, and impacts.
  • Procurement management plan—This plan describes how procurement activities will be performed, including contract types and responsibilities.

Quality Management

  • Plan Quality—8.1

Although the project manager has overall responsibility for quality, the entire project team plays a role in quality management. Every member of the project team must understand the importance of contributions, accept ownership for problems, be committed to monitoring and improving performance, and be willing to openly discuss issues among team members.

Although specific techniques and measures apply to the product being produced, the overall project quality management approach applies to any project and is relevant to the project as well as the product being produced.

The terms quality and grade are often confused. They are separate concepts and the PMBOK clearly notes their differences. Table 4.1 compares low and high values of quality and grade.

Table 4.1. Quality and Grade

Quality

Grade

Low

Errors or defects that affect the usability of the product

Few options or features

High

No obvious defects, usable product

Many options and features

The plan quality process has a number of key inputs, many of which originate from other initiating and planning processes. Table 4.2 shows the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs for the plan quality process.

Table 4.2. Plan Quality Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs

Inputs

Tools and Techniques

Outputs

Scope baseline

Cost-benefit analysis

Quality management plan

Stakeholder register

Cost of quality

Quality metrics

Cost performance baseline

Control charts

Quality checklists

Schedule baseline

Benchmarking

Process improvement plan

Risk register

Design of experiments

Project document updates

Enterprise environmental factors

Statistical sampling

Organizational process assets

Flowcharting

Proprietary quality management methodologies

Additional quality planning tools

The plan quality process incorporates various quality concepts with which you should be familiar. The following list highlights important key concepts in PMI's quality management:

  • The cost of preventing mistakes is generally less than the cost of repairing them.
  • In order to be successful, management support for the quality program must exist.
  • Quality is tied closely to the scope-cost-time constraints; without quality these objectives cannot be met successfully.
  • The cost of quality refers to the cost to implement a quality program.
  • Understanding and managing customer expectations is important to a successful quality program.
  • The quality program should emphasize continuous improvement.
  • There is a close alignment between the quality approach and the overall project management approach on a project.

Quality Theories and PMI Quality Management Approach

The quality management approach presented in the PMBOK is intended to be compatible with other standards, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, and others.

Exam questions on this topic are frequently taken from sources other than the PMBOK. Table 4.3 identifies some of the more popular quality theories.

Table 4.3. Common Quality Theories

Theory Name

Pioneers

Description

Continuous Improvement or Kaizen

Masaaki Imai, F.W. Taylor, and others

Processes are improved, mastered, and then further improvement is identified. Includes quality circles as a group-oriented means of developing ideas.

The Deming Cycle or Plan-Do-Check-Act

Dr. W. Edward Deming

Similar to Kaizen, an improvement is planned, completed, measured, and then further improvement acted upon.

Six Sigma

Based on statistical work by Joseph Juran

A statistical measure of quality equating to 3.4 defects per million items. If defects can be measured, a process can be put into place to eliminate them.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Dr. W. Edward Deming

Fourteen points of management that call for awareness of quality in all processes.

Malcolm Baldrige Award

Howard Malcolm Baldrige

An award established by the U.S. Congress to promote quality awareness.

OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model)

Project Management Institute (PMI)

Assess an organization's project management maturity level against general best practices.

CMM (capability maturity model)

Software Engineering Institute (SEI)

Five levels of capability exist: initial, repeatable, defined, managed, and optimized.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle

PMI identifies the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, also referred to as the Deming Cycle, as both a quality tool and the underlying concept for interaction among project management processes. First, an improvement is planned. Next, the improvement is carried out and measured. The results are checked and finally acted upon. Acting upon the improvement might mean making the improvement a standard, further modification to the improvement, or abandoning the improvement. Figure 4.1 demonstrates the PDCA cycle.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.

Quality Approaches and Project Management

Quality approaches align with project management approaches in a number of areas, including achieving customer satisfaction, preventing defects instead of inspecting for them, management support for quality, and continuous improvement. Table 4.4 provides additional detail.

Table 4.4. Principles Common to Quality Management and Project Management

Alignment Area

Description

Customer satisfaction

Customer requirements are met through a thorough understanding and management of expectations.

Prevention over inspection

It is cheaper to prevent defects than repair ones that are identified in inspections.

Management responsibility

Management must provide the support and resources for a quality program to be successful.

Continuous improvement

Processes are improved, mastered, and then further improvement is identified. Includes quality circles as a group-oriented means of developing ideas.

The Cost of Quality

The cost of quality (COQ) is a term that refers to the cost to produce a product or service that meets requirements. Part of the cost is rework when requirements aren't met. An effective quality program reduces cost from rework.

The three primary types of cost associated with the cost of quality are

  • Prevention costs
  • Inspection costs
  • Failure costs (internal and external)

Addressing prevention and inspection can be viewed as addressing the cost of conformance. This includes training, prototyping, design reviews, and testing. Failure costs (the cost of nonconformance) includes bug fixes, rework, cost of late delivery, and customer complaints.

Differences Among Quality Planning, Quality Assurance, Quality Control

One area of confusion, especially among project managers without a background in quality, is the difference between the three processes in quality management. Table 4.5 helps clarify these concepts.

Table 4.5. Summary of Quality Management Processes

Quality Planning

Quality Assurance

Quality Control

Process Group

Planning

Executing

Monitoring/controlling

Emphasis

Planning

Implementing

Measuring and adjusting

Key Activities

Determining relevant quality standards

Applying planned activities

Monitoring results

Determining how to apply standards

Ensuring continuous improvement

Identifying ways to eliminate unwanted results

Key Outputs

Quality management plan

Requested changes

QC measurements

Quality improvement plan

Recommended corrective action

Validated defect repair

Quality metrics

Recommended corrective and preventive actions

Quality checklist

Requested changes

Recommended defect repair

Validated deliverables

Control Charts and Other Tools

You'll see the term control chart mentioned in several areas of the PMBOK. A control chart is simply a graph that depicts upper and lower control limits, upper and lower specification limits, and actual performance data collected from project activities. Upper and lower specification limits correspond to the requirements from the project contract. The upper and lower control limits are placed at points at which action must be taken to avoid exceeding the specification limits. If performance data exceeds the upper control limit the project manager can implement appropriate changes to bring the quality back in line before the upper specification limit is exceeded and the project is in violation of the contract. The graph makes it easy to see when actual performance exceeds the predefined upper or lower limits. Figure 4.2 shows an example of a control chart.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Sample Control Chart.

Control charts are not the only tools at your disposal. As a project manager you also have access to quality planning tools such as

  • Brainstorming—Generally an open forum that includes knowledgeable people in appropriate disciplines and encourages free expression of ideas.
  • Affinity diagrams—Diagram to help identify logical groupings based on similar attributes.
  • Force field analysis—Visual depictions of forces that favor and oppose change.
  • Nominal group techniques—Small brainstorming groups where output is reviewed by a larger group.
  • Matrix diagrams—Multiple groups of information presented to show relationships between factors, causes, and objectives. Each intersection of a row and column describes a relationship between items placed in the row and in the column.
  • Prioritization matrices—Provides a method of ranking sets of problems by importance.

Cram Quiz

Answer these questions. The answers follow the last question. If you cannot answer these questions correctly, consider reading this section again until you can.

  1. Which of the following is not a responsibility of the project manager?

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    A. Acquiring HR resources for the project team

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    B. Managing overall responsibility for quality in the organization

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    C. Overall responsibility for risk on the project

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    D. Overall responsibility for customer satisfaction on the project

  2. Which subsidiary plan/component documents how the organization will achieve the quality objectives for the project?

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    A. Quality management plan

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    B. Quality baseline

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    C. Process improvement plan

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    D. Quality control checklist

  3. Which quality theory outlines 14 points and calls for quality awareness at all levels of the organization?

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    A. CMM

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    B. Kaizen

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    C. TQM

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    D. Malcolm Baldrige

Cram Quiz Answers

  1. Answer B is correct. Senior management is responsible for quality in the organization. The project manager is responsible for product quality on the project.

  2. Answer A is correct. The quality management plan lists which quality policies apply to the project and documents how the quality objectives will be met. The quality baseline documents the quality objectives for the project. The process improvement plan documents how processes will be analyzed for improvement. A quality control checklist is used to ensure steps of a process are completed.

  3. Answer C is correct. Total Quality Management (TQM) uses 14 points and calls for quality awareness from everyone involved. CMM outlines five levels of process maturity. Kaizen, or continuous improvement, calls for a cycle of improvements to processes. Malcolm Baldrige is an award for quality awareness.

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