Quality is critical and the most important factor for completion of a project on time and within the allocated budget. If proper quality checks are not in place, defective materials or work may cause damage to equipment and facilities, and potentially resulting in health and safety hazards.
Successful projects are those that meet business requirements and are delivered on schedule. Many factors contribute to a project’s success such as project planning, resource allocation, risk management and governance criteria, but effective quality management is critical for any project success.
A quality management system (QMS) is a technique used to explain to employees what is required and to influence employee actions to complete tasks according to the quality specifications.
An effective QMS focuses on systematically developing and communicating a project quality policy, objectives, mission, strategies and action plans. It should empower employees to continuously improve and increase their satisfaction with the work processes and environment.
A quality management system has three quality elements:
• Quality Planning (QP) is the process for identifying which standards are relevant to the project and determine how the project will achieve its quality objectives. Quality planning means planning how to fulfill process and deliverable quality requirements. It describes the quality objectives and specifies the quality assurance-and-control activities to be performed in day-to-day operations.
Quality planning starts at the beginning of a project. Typical outcomes of the quality planning activities are quality budget, project quality plan, audit schedule and quality procedures and templates. Quality resource planning includes roles and responsibilities of quality personnel, education and experience requirements. Project-specific training requirements are also identified in the quality planning phase.
• Quality Assurance (QA) is a process-based approach with the prime objective of preventing defects in deliverables in the planning process itself and to avoid the rework. It is a proactive management process and starts in the early stages. Undertaking QA at the beginning of a project is a key tool in mitigating the rejection, reworking and scheduling delays by communicating project quality requirements, schedule, risk and associated remedies to the project team in the beginning.
The typical quality assurance activities are: defining quality requirements in project specifications, identifying inspection and test requirements, preparing/reviewing inspection and test plans (ITP) and developing check lists to assist the quality inspector. QA also conducts root-cause analysis for non-conformance reports and suggests preventative actions.
• Quality Control (QC) is a product-based approach with the objective of ensuring that the deliverables are defect-free and acceptable as per the project quality requirements. Quality control is concerned with the operational activities and techniques that are used to fulfill the requirements of quality.
Quality control activities focus on identifying defects in the actual product/work and verifying that output conformance is at desired quality levels. It is a reactive approach by which quality is gauged and monitored and tested. Inspection activities are performed as part of the project inspection and test plan. QC provides lessons learned to avoid future occurrence and issuance of a non-conformance report (NCR) if the work fails to meet project requirements.
The benefits of the systematic approach to a quality management system cannot be ignored. An effective quality management system will reduce waste and rework while providing more consistent outcomes. It helps to keep projects on time and within allocated budget.
A quality management system also helps put more focus on prevention activities rather than the inspection or failure activities often driven by the regulatory process. It provides a way to organize people, resources and processes to achieve organizational goals.
Regardless of the size of the project, early involvement of quality personnel helps communicate the project policy, objectives, quality requirements, quality risk and associated remedies. It also motivates the project team. Effective quality management systems also provide the foundation to achieving performance excellence and increase productivity.
Quality planning, quality assurance and quality control are dependable and the project cannot be successful if it fails in any of those areas. The project cannot become quality-deliverable if focus is placed on only quality control while leaving quality planning and quality assurance aside.
The project director or manager must accept quality delivery of the project as top priority and responsibility. They must work together to manage quality from the beginning to the end of the project.
The traditional quality professional’s skills must expand to include quality assurance, a provision for feedback, lessons learned, systems thinking and execution. Quality professionals must be prepared to share knowledge and expertise with colleagues outside of the quality group. They must find ways to simplify concepts and work with others.
Most team members might think quality is quality professionals’ responsibility, which is not true. It requires all project team members’ involvement, thus quality is everyone’s responsibility.
Disclaimer: This article does not represent any Chevron Corporation position, and it is in no way related to Chevron Corporation.
Author: Saurabh Goswami works with Chevron Corporation as a project quality manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and production engineering and a master’s degree in industrial system engineering. He is ISO 9001 lead auditor with over 15 years of experience in the oil and gas industry.