Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Developing a Project Quality Policy

A quality policy, which is an important input to project quality planning, is a collection of documents that are usually created by quality experts and supported by top management. These documents state the overall quality intentions and direction of an organization.

Not all projects require new quality policies. If a quality policy already exists, it can be adopted for a new project. If a quality policy does not exist or if the project is a joint venture, the management team will be required to develop a new quality policy for the project.

A quality policy must indicate the level of quality the organization considers acceptable and must be applied at all levels of a project. Communicating this information is a vital step for quality planning. Project management teams need to distribute quality policy information in a timely manner to everyone involved with the project. As a project manager, you can communicate quality policies in the following ways.
  • Use written communication, in the form of formal reports, informal memos, and conversations, to send out clear and complete information to those working on the project and to outside parties.
  • You can share information with your team members using information retrieval systems such as manual filing systems, project management software, and electronic text databases.
  • You can forward information electronically using fax, electronic mail, voice mail, video conferencing, and a company intranet or the Internet.
Quality policies state a company's quality goals. These policies help a company create a sound reputation for good quality. Key goals should include continuous improvement of the product or service, customer satisfaction, and effective delivery of the service. In addition, quality policies should:
  • promote consistency throughout the project
  • include quality objectives
  • describe how organizations view quality
  • detail guidelines for all important quality matters
  • state principles of what will take place during the project, rather than how it will take place
  • state requirements for updating the policy
  • be understood, implemented, and maintained at all levels of an organization.
Quality objectives are important elements of a quality policy. Some typical quality objectives are:
  • clearly defined statement of customer needs
  • specific statements about deadlines
  • commitment to avoid harmful effects on the environment and society
  • reviews to identify opportunities for quality improvements
  • commitment to quality throughout the organization.
Quality policies are essential inputs to quality planning. Top-level managers implement quality policies throughout the duration of projects. It can be challenging for managers to stay focused on quality and avoid getting sidetracked by other matters. Ultimately, the best way for a project manager to show support for quality is to "walk the walk."

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