How it is defined is: Quality Management (QM) is the sum of all planned systematic activities and processes for creating, controlling and assuring quality. It has 3 sub-layers named as:
- Quality Plan: Such as project commitment, goals and expected risks to identify project quality requirements.
- Quality Assurance: Such as standards, regulations, and procedures for creating, evaluating, verifying the product for auditing the quality requirements and results from quality control.
- Quality Control: Such as monitoring and recording results of executing the quality activities.
Maintaining quality is an integral part of a project that is achieved by keeping track of project tasks and continuously improving existing solution. The primary goal of maintaining quality is to make sure a product is in good levels of quality and meets the regulations and standards the customer needs from the product. Nearly all software development methodologies utilize QM activities are performed throughout the product life cycle. It starts from verifying the user needs, company processes, standards and checking if the team will be able to meet the expectations.
The purpose of QM is to make sure that the software product quality complies with industry standards as well as the customer’s needs. QM can be represented in the following model diagram which shows the relationship of Quality Plan, Quality Assurance, and Quality Control interfacing with other processes.
Quality Management involves more than just monitoring. Continuous improvement is critical to the progress and evolution of processes and activities within an organization. Continuous improvement is considered as a continuous effort to maintain and improve products, services and methods throughout the phases of the project. It emphasizes on providing feedback, identification, reduction, and elimination of suboptimal processes to maintain efficiency and evolving a project incrementally.
The core principle of continuous improvement, according to Imai, Masaaki: author of book ‘Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success’ where continuous improvement derives meaning from kai (“change”) zen (“good”) is “improvement”: is reflection of processes in the form of feedback, with the purpose of identifying, reducing and eliminating suboptimal processes to improve efficiency. The most common approach to continuous improvement, especially in Agile-based projects, include review and retrospective meetings.
Implementing Quality Management within a project
Implementing Quality Management requires the involvement of every stakeholder in the process, including the clients. It can be effectively implemented in a project through planning, executing quality assurance and performing monitoring and control. A key step in all these phases is to identify all the quality requirements and quantifying quality attributes such as security, probability, adaptability, maintainability, robustness, usability, reliability and performance as an object before designing the product.
As shown in the figure above, Quality plan documents the strategy on how the project will achieve compliance with those quality requisites. Performing quality assurance involves auditing the outcome of product’s quality control measurements against the identified quality requirements and standards. Quality control ensures recording, monitoring and assessing the results of executing quality check activities. This helps to evolve performance of product life-cycle and to come up with improvements to be incorporated in the project.
Project team must be trained on tools and techniques to ensure that team is performing tasks to achieve expected quality level. Quality can only be achieved through continuous improvement and it needs qualified metrics to track the progress. Implementing quality monitoring requires a thorough understanding of the current process and effective use of quality control methods & tools to improve the current process further24.
Tailoring Quality Management Processes
Process tailoring is crucial to project success as it enables efficient use of assets and resources to achieve the project goal. Quality management planning at organizational level can be achieved through having clear project objectives and goals.
At the organization level, processes and generic models should be tailored in order to fit its needs and to cover special boundary conditions. Tailoring will result in customized quality management framework or manually defining quality processes from organization’s perspective. Even though such customized frameworks are abstract and generic, they provide valuable input to projects on standards to be followed and tools, methods to be used.
At the project level, Quality implementation needs another level of tailoring to focus on project specific goals. The project team members responsible for maintaining quality tailor the processes to refine and select appropriate procedures, define quality standards, quality assessment processes specific to the project. Quality monitoring should consider repeated quality reviews and assessments to guarantee that standards are applied and followed properly and to ensure that process is benefitting the project. Quality reviews should include tailored aspects from quality manual of project.
As a part of tailoring activity, resources required for quality management need to be identified and acquired. Cost benefits of achieving particular quality level should be analyzed to agree on a certain quality level to be clear on goals.The scope for quality needs to be defined and responsibilities for quality assurance should be assigned to appropriate roles.
Ebert, Christof, Dr. “Software Quality Management.” Vector. Accessed January 23, 2016. http://vector.com/portal/medien/vector_consulting/publications/Ebert_QualityManagement.pdf
Zelkowitz, Marvin V. “Advances in Computers”. London: Academic, 2008.