Quality Control Activities – Ensuring that Deliverables Comply with Quality Requirements
Performing quality control activities represents increasingly important concerns for project managers and planners. Quality control activities serve as a safety mechanism that helps prevent occurrence of defects or failures in project facilities and products. Poor implementation of quality control activities often results in very large costs because even with minor defects or deviations, project re-organization may be required. Increased costs and delays may result in customer dissatisfaction. In the worst scenario, defects or failures may cause personal injuries to project participants.
The Quality Control Activities is a part of the Quality Management Section in the Project Implementation Guide. It describes the importance of conducting quality audits, gives a definition of quality checks, and outlines the key steps of the quality control process.
What is Project Quality Control?
Quality Control is a series of activities to monitor the quality management process, make records on quality performance, revealing any defects or failures in project facilities and products, and generating necessary suggestions and recommendations for improving the project quality plan and increasing the quality levels. The primary goal of performing quality control activities is to ensure that the project deliverables are produced correctly and in compliance with the quality requirements specified for those deliverables.
Project quality control is performed to identify causes of defects or failures occurred during the project implementation process and to suggest corrective actions necessary for reaching appropriate quality levels. It is inseparably linked to quality assurance. While quality assurance activities are performed to ensure that appropriate quality standards (project processes and product goals) and operational definitions are applied, quality control activities are carried out to monitor and record the results of quality assurance, measure quality performance levels and recommend necessary changes (corrective actions) to the overall quality management plan. Quality control activities serve as a foundation for using continuous improvement approaches throughout the project implementation process.
The following are examples of activities for quality control:
- Use control measurements to analyze and evaluate the quality standards and processes.
- Perform quality control assessments and audits.
- Compare quality control measurements against established control limits and tolerances.
- Identify non-compliance and reasons for that.
Quality Control Process
It is convenient to unify all the activities of quality control into a single consecutive process. Essentially, this process involves auditing project results (produced deliverables) to investigate their compliance with relevant quality standards and generating solutions to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory results.
The quality control process can be illustrated as a series of consecutive steps, such as the following:
- Gather and analyze quality control measurements (these are results of quality control activities used to review and evaluate the quality standards and product processes).
- Identify and audit non-conformance of project results.
- Suggest corrective and preventive actions and recommend quality improvements (through sending change requests being applied to the quality management plan).
- Validate procedures for fault elimination.
- Review the results of corrective actions and produce quality control reports.
The project manager in cooperation with the quality manager and the quality team needs to step through the process and perform all the tasks of quality control in order to ensure quality compliance. The following quality control tools can be used to support the project manager’s effort:
- Cost-benefit analysis (comparing the cost of the quality control process to the expected benefit).
- Control charts (determining whether a selected product process is stable within predefined limits).
- Benchmarking (measuring current project processes against other projects).
- Design of experiments (determining influential factors on a selected process)
- Six Sigma (identifying and eliminating causes of faults and errors in order to improve the quality of process outputs)
- Cost of quality (investigating an amount of costs incurred for supporting current quality levels, including cost of compliance and cost of non-compliance); and others.
For successful project implementation it is highly important to perform quality control activities and carry out the process for ensuring quality compliance. The project manager in collaboration with the quality team needs to use quality control tools to monitor the quality management process, reveal any errors or fault, recommend corrective actions and ensure that the project deliverables are developed in compliance with the quality requirements and customer needs.