Quality and grade are two key components of the user's perception of quality, but they have distinctly different characteristics. Understanding the difference between quality and grade can help tremendously when working with users to define requirements and acceptance criteria. Quality is less expensive to plan into a project than to try to retrofit in once the project is underway, but there is always a tradeoff between the level of required quality and the cost to deliver that quality. Costs include the various efforts required to meet quality levels, including project work itself as well as quality monitoring and testing processes. The higher the level of required quality, the more rigorous the work, monitoring, and testing procedures must be, and that almost always comes at a higher cost.
The cost of poor quality must also be taken into account because this is often missed in the planning stages. What will happen if your product reaches the customer/user with too many errors, bugs, or defects? Will you have to tear things apart and redo them? Will you have lost a customer? Will your company be viewed negatively in the marketplace? Will the project team suffer negative consequences? It's important to understand the downside of poor quality as well as the cost of delivering high quality.
The three key components to quality are planning, monitoring, and testing. Based on what you've learned in this chapter, you may want to go back into your initial project plan and refine requirements, acceptance criteria, or other processes/procedures to build more quality processes into your project. As we move into the planning phase of the project in later chapters, we'll revisit some of the concepts presented in this chapter.
Don't let the relatively short length of this chapter fool you. Building quality into a project is of utmost importance, and using the defined IT project management process you're learning in this book is a major part of what drives quality. Consistent, repeatable processes that help you do a better job each step of the way is what IT project management is all about, so you're learning a methodology that will, by its very nature, help you deliver higher quality at a lower cost. The additional elements in this chapter are discussed throughout this book, so rather than bore you to tears with redundant information, we're giving you the short version here and we'll revisit these topics again in more detail.