Project Quality Management addresses the management of the project and the deliverables of the project. It applies to all projects, regardless of the nature of their deliverables. Quality measures and techniques are specific to the type of deliverables being produced by the project. For example, the project quality management of software deliverables may use different approaches and measures from those used when building a nuclear power plant. In either case, failure to meet the quality requirements can have serious, negative consequences for any or all of the project’s stakeholders. For example:

    • Meeting customer requirements by overworking the project team may result in decreased profits and increased project risks, employee attrition, errors, or rework.
    • Meeting project schedule objectives by rushing planned quality inspections may result in undetected errors, decreased profits, and increased post-implementation risks.

Quafiiyand grade are not the same concepts. Quality as a delivered performance or result is “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfill requirements” (ISO 9000) [10]. Grade as a design intent is a category assigned to deliverables having the same functional use but different technical characteristics. The project manager and the project management team are responsible for managing the tradeoffs associated with delivering the required levels of both quality and grade. While a quality level that fails to meet quality requirements is always a problem, a low grade of quality may not be a problem. For example:

    • It may not be a problem if a suitable low-grade software product (one with a limited number of features) is of high quality (no obvious defects, readable manual). In this example, the product would be appropriate for its general purpose of use.
    • It may be a problem if a high-grade software product (one with numerous features) is of low quality (many defects, poorly organized user documentation). In essence, its high-grade feature set would prove ineffective and/or inefficient due to its low quality.

The project management team should determine the appropriate levels of accuracy and precision for use in the quality management plan. Precision is a measure of exactness. For example, the magnitude for each increment on the measurement’s number line is the interval that determines the measurement’s precision—the greater the number of increments, the greater the precision. Accuracy is an assessment of correctness. For example, if the measured value of an item is very close to the true value of the characteristic being measured, the measurement is more accurate. An illustration of this concept is the comparison of archery targets. Arrows clustered tightly in one area of the target, even if they are not clustered in the bull’s-eye, are considered to have high precision. Targets where the arrows are more spread out but equidistant from the bull’s-eye are considered to have the same degree of accuracy. Targets where the arrows are both tightly grouped and within the bull’s-eye are considered to be both accurate and precise. Precise measurements are not necessarily accurate measurements, and accurate measurements are not necessarily precise measurements.

The basic approach to project quality management as described in this section is intended to be compatible with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) quality standards. Every project should have a quality management plan. Project teams should follow the quality management plan and should have data to demonstrate compliance with the plan.

In the context of achieving ISO compatibility, modern quality management approaches seek to minimize variation and to deliver results that meet defined requirements. These approaches recognize the importance of:

    • Customer satisfaction. Understanding, evaluating, defining, and managing requirements so that customer expectations are met. This requires a combination of conformance to requirements (to ensure the project produces what it was created to produce) and fitness for use (the product or service needs to satisfy the real needs).
    • Prevention over inspection. Quality should be planned, designed, and built into—not inspected into the project’s management or the project’s deliverables. The cost of preventing mistakes is generally much less than the cost of correcting mistakes when they are found by inspection or during usage.
    • Continuous improvement. The PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle is the basis for quality improvement as defined by Shewhart and modified by Deming. In addition, quality improvement initiatives such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma could improve the quality of the project’s management as well as the quality of the project’s product. Commonly used process improvement models include Malcolm Baldrige, Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPMV), and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI®).
    • Management Responsibility. Success requires the participation of all members of the project team. Nevertheless, management retains, within its responsibility for quality, a related responsibility to provide suitable resources at adequate capacities.
    • Cost of quality (COQ). Cost of quality refers to the total cost of the conformance work and the nonconformance work that should be done as a compensatory effort because, on the first attempt to perform that work, the potential exists that some portion of the required work effort may be done or has been done incorrectly. The costs for quality work may be incurred throughout the deliverable’s life cycle. For example, decisions made by the project team can impact the operational costs associated with using a completed deliverable. Post-project quality costs may be incurred because of product returns, warranty claims, and recall campaigns. Therefore, because of the temporary nature of projects and the potential benefits that may be derived from reducing the post-project cost of quality, sponsoring organizations may choose to invest in product quality improvement. These investments generally are made in the areas of conformance work that act to prevent defects or act to mitigate the costs of defects by inspecting out nonconforming units. The issues related to post-project COQ should be the concern of program management and portfolio management such that project, program, and portfolio management offices should apply appropriate reviews, templates, and funding allocations for this purpose.


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  • Project Management Institute. (2013). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fifth Edition. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute