Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Developing a Quality Management Plan

Implementing effective quality management for your project takes a great deal of organization. Developing a quality management plan and applying it to a project will help ensure that effective quality management has taken place.

A quality management plan is a document that details the quality practices and activities of a product or service. It is a part of an organization's quality system and should include the responsibilities, procedures, processes, organizational structure, and resources required to implement effective quality management.

Created by the project manager and the project team members, it should describe how a quality policy will be carried out and detail the project objectives by breaking down the project activities into lower-level activities. It should also identify specific quality actions.

Quality management plans can take on many forms. They can be formal, informal, detailed, or general, depending on the needs of each particular project. They can also be represented in many ways visually. For example, a plan can be displayed as a tree-like diagram.

A new plan should be developed, or old plans should be changed to reflect the different activities of each unique project. A quality management plan does not stand completely alone—it becomes a part of the overall project plan.

Project quality can be described as meeting or exceeding customer requirements. This means customers should have input into the quality of the project. Remember, the bottom line to any project is satisfying the customers. Without them, there are no future projects.

Effective quality management plans play an important role in this process of satisfying customers. The characteristics of good quality management plans are as follows.
  • They should identify customers.
  • They should prove that goals and objectives are being met.
  • They should affect the design of a process that meets the ever-changing needs of customers.
  • They should enable the company to bring in suppliers early in the process.
It is the responsibility of the project manager to make certain that the project's quality actions are thoroughly documented. This process will enable the company to prove that it has the right processes in place to meet the needs of its customers.

Sustaining a quality system and creating a quality management plan requires a great deal of effort, planning, and organization. The following is a list of the high-level steps in the process of creating a quality management plan.

1. State all measurable features of the project's product.

2. Identify how the product will be produced and its quality measured against specifications.

3. Determine how the project approach will be measured.

4. Conduct a quality risk assessment and develop non-conformance procedures.

5. State the method for quality reporting and monitoring.

6. Outline the formal acceptance criteria and document the project's final product.

In summary, quality management plans are documents that describe the quality practices, resources, and sequence of activities related to a specific service or product. They act as a guide for satisfying the customers' needs.

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