Project Management

Has Quality Management Really Changed?

Following 20 years at a large Canadian telecommunications firm, Bruce established the project management consulting firm Solutions Management Inc (SMI). Since 1999, he has provided contract project/program management services, been a source for project management support personnel and created/delivered courses to over 7,000 participants in Canada, the United States and England.

Quality management is not a new phenomenon. With only minimal research, I found its roots can date back to medieval Europe when 13th century craftsman created guilds (unions) to develop strict standards that were then enforced through inspection. This approach remained mostly unchanged for centuries until the Industrial Revolution in the 1900s in Great Britain.

The movement continued as manufacturing increased in America. It was there that Frederick Taylor focused the manufacturing process on increasing productivity without increasing the number of craftsmen. His approach caused productivity to skyrocket—but quality levels diminished. To correct the quality issues, additional inspectors were hired to reduce the number of defective products reaching the marketplace. World War II brought pressure for even higher quality.

Following the war, Japan recognized its reputation of producing low-quality exports and engaged American quality “gurus” such as Edward Deming and Joseph Juran. It has taken a generation for some American manufacturers to recognize the need to focus on quality versus quantity.

After reading the history, I decided to pull out some archived PMBOK® Guides (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) and looked at PMI’s approach to quality. I asked the question: What has changed in the world of quality management from …

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"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

- Albert Einstein