Published on Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In my experience, the creation of an actual quality management plan, quality control plan, or quality assurance plan (I’ve seen it called all three) has been a fairly rare occurrence. Most organizations have separate quality assurance staffs with their processes to follow and are often involved to some degree on at least the larger projects. However, there are times when quality management plans are necessary and are produced specific to a particular project – especially on very large, mission critical projects or when mandated by your customer.
Carl Pritchard’s book “The Project Management Communications Toolkit” does a great job of outlining what a quality management plan should contain and look like and closely matches the type of information I’ve included in the past on such plans that I’ve created for projects. In my case, it’s usually been required on large government projects. Mr. Pritchard’s summary follows – hopefully some of our readers will find this information beneficial as they search for information on plans that they are required to put together for specific projects.
Quality Management Plan
The quality management plan provides guidance on how quality will be ensured on the project through design reviews, documentation, and other protocols. It gives management and the customer a clear understanding of how quality will be maintained and what documentation they can expect (addressing quality) during the life of the project.
The plan is generated by the project team and is used as both a cross-reference for other documentation and as a guide for responsibility on the quality aspects of the project. Team members refer to it to find documents (either in whole or be reference) that they need to examine regarding quality standards for their deliverables. Managers refer to it to clarify what practices are considered essential for quality performance and to affirm who is responsible for those practices. The customer may refer to the quality management plan for assurance that quality practices are in place for their deliverables (and to identify any specific practices for which they are responsible).
Much of the content in quality management plans is often reference. There may be references to performance standard guides, quality standards (like ISO 9000), and internal support documents. The quality management plan is normally limited to a single project or effort within a project and is specific in terms of outlining responsibilities and ownership. The outline of a quality management plan may include the items discussed in the following subsections.
1.0 Definition of Scope
This is the scope of the quality plan, not the entire project, expressing how much of the project or deliverables the quality plan is expected to encompass.
2.0 Quality Policy
Normally defined in general terms or by referencing other documents, the quality policy expresses the project or support organization’s attitude toward quality and quality practices.
3.0 Quality Approach
The quality approach often includes extensive reference documentation that supports the quality plan, including the documents needed to validate deliverable performance. It will also outline how specific practices, such as design reviews, management reviews, customer reviews, and records management will be carried out.
4.0 Supporting Documentation
For some information incorporated in the quality approach documentation such as flowcharts and external references, copies (or direction to copies) may be embedded as appendices or in supplemental folders.
The depth of the quality management plan hinges largely on the quality practices and policies of the supporting organization. Some organizations with a minimal emphasis on quality may generate an entire quality management plan in a one or two-page document. Other quality management plans may incorporate binder upon binder of supporting documentation and information.
In developing a quality management plan, it is important to consider the customer’s quality practices. Customers with high levels of quality planning and expertise often expect similar levels of effort from their vendors and supporting organizations. Thus, prior to developing a quality management plan, it is often prudent to review the customer’s quality practices and management plans.
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