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Quality

The PM4SD approach model follows the Focus on Products principle, for this reason the Quality aspects of a project takes a leading place in the approach the project will choose to deliver its products. The quality component has therefore been structured in order to give a set of standards and definitions to be followed and applied during a project in order to ensure the delivery of a product which is fit for purpose.

The generally accepted definition of quality stipulates that all aspects and features inherent to the characteristic of a product, activity, person and system which may have an impact on its capability of fitting its purpose or meeting its requirements and satisfying its needs are part of the Quality of that product, person, activity or system.

Since, according to the nature and context of the project, a PM4SD project might deliver any of the above mentioned outputs and, considering that all outputs are treated as products, we can give the definition of quality according to PM4SD as: a product’s ability to meet its requirements.

There are various responsibilities surrounding the quality aspects of PM4SD projects. As most of the projects developed within a sustainability framework are characterised by a post-project continuous monitoring and improvement, where possible the qualitative aspects of the product and its impact will have external quality factors such as regeneration, economic stability, socio-economic development etc.

Within the Project life-cycle the responsibilities regarding the quality objectives are shared among the Project management team members and those stakeholders with the most relevant profile to deal with all the sustainability aspects and criteria to be assessed, for instance:

  • The Senior User is responsible for providing the quality expectations and criteria for the products to be delivered by the project;
  • The Senior Supplier will be held accountable for the quality of the resources, materials, infrastructures and tools provided for developing the project’s product;
  • The PM will be ultimately responsible for monitoring the project and making sure all the appropriate steps and controls are being applied to ensure the products will be fit for purpose at the time of their delivery;
  • The Team Managers will be responsible for creating products according to their product descriptions and quality criteria and for carrying out any quality control activity which might have been planned;
  • Project assurance will intervene to make sure the correct quality standards and policies are being applied during the project where adequate Quality assurance is not present.

The route towards achieving quality within PM4SD covers the entire life-cycle of the project, starting with the definition of the acceptance criteria and quality expectations for the final product, through the creation and implementation of the quality plan and the careful identification and planning of all the quality criteria to be met for each of the products identified to be delivered by the project. Moreover the PM is encouraged to incorporate in its stage planning all the necessary quality activities aimed at confirming a product readiness before its delivery.

By using the documentation at its disposal the PM4SD project will ensure that a clear understanding of what the project is aiming to deliver and what is expected in terms of quality is shared among all the interested parties.The PM’s work to ensure quality can be summarised in four main steps:

  • Make sure the appropriate standards for quality and any external factors likely to impact a product’s ability to meet its requirements have been taken into consideration as well as any tools, techniques and policies to be applied to the projects.
  • Make sure all the quality aspects inherent to the products, to the resources, skills required and any relevant tolerances have been clearly identified and planned to ensure compliance and a shared understanding of the work to be done.
  • Plan and monitor the performance of all the required quality checks and performance tests aimed at ensuring a product’s capability to meet the required criteria.
  • Where present seek the advice and support of a quality assurance role to ensure all the quality standards, policies and aspects are being adhered to and that all the quality planning is coherent with what the project is expected to deliver.

The main management product at the disposal of a PM to deal with quality within a project is the Quality Plan created during the Project Initiation process and used as input every time quality activities might be planned or implemented. However the plan alone is not sufficient to ensure the project delivers the expected quality.

Each product should have a Product Description clearly defining the product’s specifications, its quality criteria, quality methods to be applied and the development skill required. Also the Quality log will be used to record the quality checks, which will be performed, on the products during the development stages.

Since the nature of projects and their products can be extremely different, the PM4SD model cannot offer a specific technique to ascertain quality as in most cases sector specific technical reviews will be performed on a project’s product before this can be delivered.

For instance a brochure advertising a country’s tourist attractions will be quality checked in a very different manner from a new ski lift installed at a mountain resort. However PM4SD does provide for a structured and planned approach to quality testing by suggesting a final review to be concentrated on ensuring that a product matches its description prior to it being delivered. As such a review meeting will be arranged where different roles will proceed to compare the finished product with what was expected by its specification and give a formal sign-off prior to the product being delivered.

Apart from the documentation provided by the PM4SD related to quality planning and management, each project will have specific acceptance records where formal approval for the products can be verified and ownership of the product is transferred as part of a controlled hand-over.