Project quality can really mean different things to different people but ultimately it is about delivering a quality product from the project and ensuring the correct levels of quality and aligned to. A good quality control system should allow and understand for the following principles:
- Select the correct elements of the project to control and establish plus use appropriate measurement methods.
- Act to bring non-conforming processes and product back to the standard. This is based on the information and measurements collected.
- Document and communicate results to project team, management and other projects. This allows others to understand the level of conformance and performance.
The key element from all of this is to select the proper elements of the project to control and to use suitable tools to do this.
So what tools and techniques that can be used for the planning of quality and understanding what needs to be done. The quality control tools are used to control processes or to solve problems in context where it is possible to gather data and measurements. Furthermore, there needs to be a level of understanding about the project processes and situation. Marrying the planning and the control tools provides the project team with an effective arsenal to ensure that once the quality policy and objectives are understood, a set of tools exist which allows for the implementation of project quality.
The following are some control tools that can be used in a project context. These control tools are known as the ‘Seven Quality Control Tools’ and are:
- Flowcharts: – Discussed in previous chapters in understanding the process in order to determine what needs to be done.
- Run and Control Charts: – Tool used to identify dynamic and special causes of variation in a repeating process.
- Checklists: – To manually collect data in a reliable and organising way that can be used to understand the key causes or elements.
- Histograms: – Histograms are used to show the frequency distribution of a set of measurements and again is a tool for problem identification.
- Pareto Diagrams: – Similar to the histogram of data but it is arranged from the largest frequency to the smallest in order to identify the main contributors
- Cause and Effect Diagrams: – To identify and structure the causes of a given effect and thus understand the relations that exist.
- Scatter Diagram: – To show the degree and type of any casual relationship that exists between two different factors.
The above tools are used to solve the various problems that occur during the process of control. However, there are two main methods of obtaining data which are dependent on the type of project been taken on, namely statistical process control or inspection. These will be discussed in the next chapter. For the purpose of understanding the above tools, a process for project quality control should be established.
One of the most popular tools out there is the good auld run charts or control charts and are used to identify any special causes within the project that are consistently repeating. A tool like this may be of value when understanding the project and delivering a quality management plan. However the use of the tool is when investigating a process to determine whether it is in a state of statistical control or to detect statistically significant trends in measurements and variations. This tool is of practical use when regular measurements of a processor project can be made. This chart makes it easy to interpret patterns and thus draw conclusions about the state of control.