By Bruce Beer, PMP:

This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

OK, so most Project Managers who have attended any type of project management class will have had “Quality” thrown at them with the outline of what should go into a “Quality Plan”. Knowing about the theoretical contents of a quality plan and actually preparing one can be quite different!

When I first tried to do a plan, my first question was “Where can I find one that has already been done so I can use it as a starting point?”, and the answer was generally a blank stare. They were difficult things to get hold of because most people know about them, know what should go into them, but have never quite managed the final step of trying to produce one. Once the realization has hit you that these things are as rare as rocking horse droppings, you then need to go and create a plan based on the theory you learned in your last PM class.

Later on in my PM career, I was working in a very large PMO based in Germany, and I was asked to become the quality manager for a global desktop refresh rollout. Another level of mystery altogether! I worked with the customer’s quality manager to produce a unified quality plan for the PMO and introduce quality measures into the program. Daunting stuff!

The Customer’s quality manager and I sat down to outline the quality elements that would go into the quality plan. Bear in mind that the quality plan is there to define what quality measures there should be, what measurements need to be taken, when, how, how often, by whom, what format the results should take, and what constitutes the pot of gold under the rainbow of “achieving quality”.

The program was extremely diverse, incorporating areas such as some software development, some facility reconstruction, purchasing, delivery of desk tops around the world, installation, support, SLAs, etc., and the quality plan had to account for all these different types of projects. In creating the quality plan we focused on the project deliverables. This is where we could apply quality metrics, success criteria, acceptance, etc. Viewing it from this deliverables aspect also allowed us to break the plan down into the different types of projects and deliverables, defining quality metrics and success criteria for each.

In Part 2, we will discuss the overall objectives and components of a quality plan.