PRINCE2 - Quality
The purpose of the quality theme is to define and implement the means by which the project will verify that products are fit for purpose. Quality is concerned with ensuring that the project's products meet business expectations and enable the desired benefits to be realized.
Underestimating or omitting quality management activities is likely to lead to slippages, overspends and/or poor quality results. The quality theme addresses the quality methods and responsibilities not only for the specification, development and approval of the project's products, but also for the management of the project. Terms used to talk about quality are sometimes interpreted differently or interchangeably by various people. This can lead to misunderstandings. PRINCE2 uses specific terminology derived from the ISO 9000 standards, but is aimed specifically at project work.
PRINCE2's focus on products principle is central to its approach to quality. PRINCE2 requires systematic activities to
- explicitly agree the customer's quality expectations and acceptance criteria for the project product
- identify the project's products (i.e. to the level at which the project intends to exert control)
- define the project's products in product descriptions including the quality criteria by which they will be assessed, the quality methods to be used in designing, developing and approving them, and the quality responsibilities of those involved
- implement and track the quality methods employed throughout the project.
PRINCE2 explicitly addresses the two activities of quality planning and quality control.
Quality planning is about defining the project's products, with their respective quality criteria, quality methods (including effort required for quality control and product approval) and the quality responsibilities of those involved.
The purpose of quality planning is to provide a secure basis:
- to obtain agreement by the project board on the overall quality expectations, the products required with their associated quality criteria (including corporate and other standards to be observed), the means by which quality will be achieved and assessed and, ultimately, the acceptance criteria by which the project's product will be judged
- to communicate these agreements unambiguously so that all the project stakeholders have a common understanding of what the project is setting out to achieve
- for control (i.e. establishing an effective baseline for the project's quality controls, including the quality tolerances) and a secure means of achieving products that are fit for purpose.
When these aspects of planning are neglected, the people involved in the project may have conflicting views on:
- the scope of the solution
- what constitutes a successful result
- the approach to be adopted
- the extent of the work required
- who should be involved
- what their roles should be.
Quality control focuses on the operational techniques and activities used by those involved in the project to:
- check that the products meet their quality criteria (e.g. by quality inspections, testing or review)
- identify ways of eliminating causes of unsatisfactory performance (e.g. by introducing process improvements as a result of previous lessons).
Quality control is achieved by implementing, monitoring and recording the quality methods and responsibilities defined in the quality management approach and product descriptions (and subsequently agreed to in workpackages).