The PMBOK spends a significant amount of time on quality assurance, and you should be familiar with the impact of quality on a project, both for the exam and for your own projects. When looking at the triumvirate of project aspects time, price, and scope you should note that quality is at the center of the three elements and is paramount to the understanding of the PMBOK. Quality assurance involves following up to make sure everything is done correctly and fulfills the requirements of the project.
Quality assurance may be provided by the project team or any other stakeholder responsible for maintaining or assisting with the maintenance of quality for the project. Alternatively, an external organization may be utilized to provide quality assurance assistance.
Two terms regarding quality assurance are quality planning and quality control. Quality control concerns auditing of the project to make sure it adheres to the guidelines that are required in the quality management plan. Quality planning involves the setting of these standards, which will later be controlled.
Another term you should know concerning quality is probability, which is the likelihood that an event or activity will occur. Probabilities are frequently assigned to risks and outcomes that can have a direct impact on quality.
Six Sigma is a combination of philosophy and tools involved with quality improvement. Many companies use Six Sigma methodologies for improvements, ranging from manufacturing to inventory management and design. Process engineering and business process improvement are also closely tied with the Six Sigma strategies.
Inputs to Quality Assurance
Quality assurance is an integral part of a project and the PMP exam. PMI constantly emphasizes that unless a high-quality project is provided, it does not matter if the project arrives on time and on budget. PMI's philosophy is that the project should be on time and on budget and that high-quality standards should be maintained through the use of control mechanisms. Projects of sloppy quality are not successful projects, according to the methodologies of PMI.
The three inputs to project quality assurance are the quality management plan, the results of quality control measurements, and the operational definitions. The quality management plan and the operational definitions are defined and detailed further in Chapter 8 of the PMBOK as outputs from quality planning.
The results of the quality control measurements are the reports, records, and test results concerning quality testing. These allow readers to perform analysis of the quality standards and see whether they are met. This includes analysis of variances and explanations for patterns of quality irregularity.
Tools and Techniques for Quality Assurance
Quality assurance and quality planning use the same set of tools and techniques. These are summarized in Table 6.2.
Another tool for measuring and assuring quality in a project is quality audits. The reason for the audits is to document and explain the strengths and weaknesses associated with the project. The summary of the audit should include what was learned from the project for future reference to make other projects more successful.
Quality Assurance Outputs
The only output to quality assurance is quality improvement, which involves any actions taken to improve the quality of the project in response to quality deficiencies or irregularities. In order words, if quality is not up to the standards set, corrective action is taken to bring it back in line with the quality requirements for the project. Frequently, such corrective actions will require a change order request and will utilize the change control integration processes referenced in other sections of the PMBOK.