Integrating quality management into project management and operational measurement systems helps business professionals minimize defects, improve satisfaction and reduce costs. By conducting tests using an adequate sample size; analyzing people, processes and tools thoroughly; and categorizing errors comprehensively, quality management professionals establish an infrastructure that helps ensure cost-effective quality management. To maintain a competitive edge in a global marketplace, companies need to keep up with advancements in technology and innovation. Responding to these opportunities, measuring progress toward achieving strategic goals and managing improvement projects enable long-term success.
Traditionally, quality management professionals have implemented quality measurement systems to identify and minimize events known as Type I and Type II errors. Type I errors mean that false positives occur and generate unnecessary extra work for personnel. Type II errors mean that defective products do not get detected by the measurement system. Minimizing Type I errors saves the company money, and minimizing Type II errors prevents faulty products from reaching customers and causing warranty claims and lower customer satisfaction.
Tools and Methods
Tools and methods used to perform quality control and quality assurance activities include benchmarking; creating cause and effect diagrams; building control charts; and creating flow charts, histograms, Pareto charts and scatter diagrams using statistical analysis techniques. For example, conducting a failure and effects analysis allows a project manager to identify possible failures based on past experience with similar products or processes. By brainstorming with experts, project managers gather the information necessary to prevent errors in new systems.
Using data collection, analysis and cause and effect identification tools as part of a quality control process, quality management professionals review all factors involved in work processes. Work performance measurements, such as product failure rates, enable quality management professionals to evaluate the output of work processes. Quality control activities also allow project managers to compare planned values to actual values, such as costs and schedule information. By representing the data in vertical bar charts known as histograms, quality management professionals review the data to make decisions about process improvements required.
For example, to create a Pareto chart, quality management professionals create a list of errors observed, record the frequencies of each, rank the top six errors, find the cumulative percentage and generate a histogram that shows the data. Finally, they draw a line that plots the cumulative percentage for each error and make decisions based on the visual representation of the data.
Using quality assurance techniques, project managers audit quality requirements and the results of quality control measurement activities to ensure that the company’s policies, procedures and techniques produce products or services that meet customer’s needs and expectations. Conducting a quality audit involves inspecting work output to assess the efficiency of production policies and procedures. Additionally, an audit ensures that approved change requests, including corrective and preventive actions, get implemented. Quality management professionals also conduct quality assurance audits to compare process documentation to how actual tasks get accomplished to verify that work gets completed according to established policies and procedures. This includes ensuring that the appropriate levels of approval are obtained before starting and completing work.