Managing and Controlling Quality

During the Project Implementation Phase, project managers focus on managing the implementation of the project deliverables in accordance with the preagreed quality requirements and standard. Here, project managers are constantly working with the project teams and other stakeholders on quality-related activities. For project deliverables with concrete specifications, such as building a bridge, the quality specifications such as length, width, load tolerance, and height are well specified. While not necessarily easy to achieve, these specifications can be objectively measured, assessed, and compared. For project deliverables that are more subjective, such as design work or ease of performing a workflow, the quality of their functional or esthetic specifications is more subjective and difficult to measure.

Good practices. Quality should be deliberate, intentionally planned, and excellently delivered by following these five best practices:

  • 1. Customer satisfaction. Customers are the final judges of satisfaction, and so project managers should understand their expectations and manage them carefully. On difficult projects, customer expectations can be unrealistic given the project constraints. For this reason, it is the responsibility of project managers to involve customers throughout the project at every step. Updates, good and bad, should be promptly communicated.
  • 2. Empower people and team. This is especially important on larger projects where project managers cannot be everywhere or know everything. Therefore, it is important to empower project teams to perform within the established standard, method, and processes.
  • 3. Fact-based management. Quality should be based on objective data and feedback. This way, project managers can understand and manage variations, understand and improve data and measurement, and adjust course where necessary. Whenever possible, project managers should seek objective measures and standards. Where subjectivity is unavoidable, key stakeholders should be engaged to make determinations.
  • 4. Process management. To effectively manage quality throughout the project, project managers must understand, control, and improve processes. These are a series of related activities directed toward achieving the desired results and outputs.
  • 5. Start early but with the end in mind. Project managers sometimes fail to look beyond project implementation. On many, if not most projects, the actual utilization and value attained are in the ongoing operations after the project has closed. To address this, it is good practice to incorporate quality processes early on in the project (from the Initiation Phase) and to consider how the product will be used once completed.

Controlling Quality

When there are gaps in quality between the actual and agreed, project managers should intervene to correct and control quality by monitoring and recording project results (interim or final) and making adjustments, as necessary, to ensure the project and product deliverables meet the specified quality requirements. This process can include the inspection of inputs, application of tools and techniques, conducting of activities, quality of deliverables, and robustness of quality management processes, such as reporting systems and quality audits.

Change request is another important mechanism to control quality. These can include preventative actions, such as activities and actions to ensure that the future performance of the project work is aligned with the quality management plan, or corrective actions designed to realign the performance of project work with quality standards. Project managers can also use quality audits to ensure that the project execution meets the agreed standard and requirements. Project audits can be informal or formal, as well as internal or external (see Figure 16.1). Quality control is a process that should be performed by all project team members throughout the project.

Quality audit dimensions

Figure 16.1 Quality audit dimensions.

Validating Quality to Transitioning and/or Closing Project

In the final phase of the project, project managers should work with the project experts to validate that the quality requirements (e.g., utility and warranty) have been successfully achieved. This is likely a major condition for customers, before they are agreeable to accept and approve the project deliverables. If there remain quality issues, even with customer’s acceptance, project managers should transition those considerations to next teams, such as a project team working on the next phase of the project or the operational team, so these quality concerns can be properly managed. Lastly, project managers should capture important lessons learned in the postproject evaluation and the final project closeout report.

Project Management in Motion

This book is intended for a wide range of audiences and across various industries and functions. Therefore, to balance between competing demands of ease of use, comprehensiveness, modularity, flexibility, and upgradeability, the author has adopted a modular format to this book. This includes the relatively short chapters on key topics. In addition, the appendices include three vital sections:

■ Appendix A contains a list of commonly used project management templates for both predictive and adaptive project management approaches.

■ Appendix В contains an integrated case study based on a fictitious global company undertaking a number of projects and confronting various project challenges. The case maps closely to the chapters and sections, key concepts, and relevant tools of this book. The goal is to provide instructors, students, and practitioners with a realistic project example to practice and apply the key learnings in the book. For more information and additional case studies in which the author plans to create over time, including potential collaboration opportunities, visit

■ Appendix C contains a glossary of selective terms, reprinting with permission from Dr. Те Wu and Mr. Brian Williamson’s book titled “The Sensible Guide to Key Terminologies in Project Management", iExperi Press, Montclair, NJ.

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