A Quality Primer

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

For some reason, project managers don’t seem to spend as much time on quality management as many other aspects of their work. I suspect it’s due to the fact that there is usually some sort of quality management activity built into the project plan so they feel they can focus on other things. In other words, if someone on the team is going to be doing testing anyway, why worry?

That’s a short-sighted approach; testing is the most expensive and least effective quality management technique there is. So in this article, let’s do a “Quality 101” exploration. It’s designed for new PMs, but should be a useful refresher for everyone.

Quality grade vs. quality standard
Let’s start by making a distinction between two aspects of quality that are often confused: grade and standard. Both of these are important, but they are very different:

  • Grade is the defined quality that the solution has to meet. In simple terms, is it a high-end designer product that will sell for a very high price and must not compromise in any area; or is it a low-end bargain product that will be the cheapest option for consumers, but that won’t be made very well. The first is high grade, the second is low grade.
  • Standard is the measurement of whether the product meets the defined grade. It doesn’t matter what grade the product is; there is …

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