PMP Certification Study Notes 8 – Project Quality Management

PMP Quality Management

Introduction: This part of the PMP® exam study notes is based on chapter 8 of PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition. More information on my PMP® certification exam preparation can be found at my PMP® exam and certification journey here.

  • everyone in the organization is responsible for the quality (project team for destined parts while PM for project quality), PM is ultimately responsible for the project quality
  • prevention over inspection
  • outliers are singular measurements outside the control limits
  • continuous improvement to ensure quality (quality assurance)
  • some costs of quality will be borne by the organization (organization quality policy, e.g. quality audit, ISO accreditation)
  • Quality: the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements, decrease rework/costs, increase productivity/stakeholder satisfaction
  • under ‘control’: the process is predictable and repeatable
  • PM: perform continuous improvement activities (quality assurance), verify quality before completion of deliverables (control quality)
  • Grade (fit for use or not) vs Quality (conformance to stated requirements)
  • Accuracy (correctness) vs Precision (consistence, how closely conforms to target, standard deviation is a measure of precision, smaller standard deviation higher precision)
  • Quality Management Concepts
    • Crosby Zero Defects: identify processes to remove defects, quality is built in to the processes
    • Juran Fitness for Use: does the product/service meet customer’s need? i) Grade, ii) Quality conformance, iii) Reliability/maintainability, iv) Safety, v) Actual Use
    • W. Edwards Deming: 85% of quality problem is managers’  responsibility, develop “System of Profound Knowledge” [system = components working together to achieve an aim] i) Appreciation for system, ii) Knowledge about variation (special cause vs common cause) , iii) Theory of Knowledge (built up by prediction/observation/adjustment) , iv) Psychology
    • Six Sigma: achieve 3.4/1 mil defect level (99.999%) using DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Implement, Control) or [Design for Six Sigma] DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Validate) approach, refine the process to get rid of human error and outside influences with precise measurements, variations are random in nature
    • Just In Time: eliminate build up of inventory
    • Total Quality Management (TQM): ISO 8402 all members to center on quality to drive customer satisfaction , refine the process of producing the product
    • Kaizen改善: implement consistent and incremental improvement, to reduce costs, cycle time, drive customer satisfaction using PDCA (Plan Do Check Act)
    • The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a way of making small improvements and testing their impact before you make a change to the process as a whole. It comes from W. Edwards Deming’s work in process improvement, which popularized the cycle that was originally invented by Walter Shewhart in the 1930s.
    • Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI): improve overall software quality (design, development and deployment)
    • ISO9000: ensures the defined processes are performed in accordance to the plan
  • Quality Management processes are so focused on reviewing EVERY deliverable – not just the final product, but all of the components, designs and specifications too.

Plan Quality Management

  • quality policy (either organizational or just for the project), methods and procedures to meet the objectives and satisfy customer’s needs
  • identify the quality requirements and document how to achieve
  • Cost-benefit Analysis: cost of implementing quality requirements against benefits
  • Cost of Quality: lowest quality cost is prevention, highest quality cost (poor quality) is rework and defect repair (as high as 5000 times the cost for carrying out unit testing), lost reputation and sales, failure cost may be internal/external (found by customer)
  • Warranty claims are external cost of quality
  • Cost of Quality is the total cost of quality efforts throughout the product’s lifecycle
  • cost of conformance (prevention cost, appraisal cost) vs cost of non-conformance (failure cost [internal/external])
  • internal/external is reference to the project (not the organization)
  • Poka Yoke (mistake proofing), Zero Quality Control (100% source inspection), Voice of Customer and FEMA (Failure Modes of Effects Analysis) are planning tools for quality management
  • Quality Metrics: function points, MTBF (mean time between failure), MTTR (mean time to repair)
  • Marginal Analysis: ROI of quality measures
  • 7 Basic Quality Tools
    • Cause-and-effect / Ishikawa / Fishbone Diagram: for identifying the cause
    • Flowchart: (e.g. SIPOC diagram) for identifying failing process steps and process improvement opportunities
    • Check Sheets (tally sheets): collecting data/documenting steps for defeat analysis
    • Histograms: does not consider the influence of time on the variation that exits within a distribution
    • Pareto Chart: based on 80/20 principle, a prioritization tool to identify critical issues in descending order of frequency, sort of a histogram
    • Statistical Process Control (SPC) Chart: determine if a process is stable/predictable using statistical sampling (assessed by accuracy[conformance] and precision[standard deviation]), identity the internally computed control limits (UCL/LCL) and specification limits (USL/LSL) by the customer/PM
    • run chart is similar to control chart, but without the control
    • usually +-3sigma i.e. a range of 6 sigma
    • a form of time series
    • if a process is within control limit but beyond specification limit, the process is experiencing common cause variation (random) that cannot be corrected by the system, management help is needed (special cause can be tackled but NOT common cause)
    • Stability Analysis / Zone Test: rule of seven (7 consecutive on either side of the mean = out of control), rule of six (six consecutive with a trend = out of control), rule of ten (10 as a saw-tooth pattern around the mean), rule of one (1 point beyond control limit) [signal in the noise]
    • Scatter Diagram: for trending, a form of regression analysis
  • Benchmarking: compare to past activities/standard/competition
  • Design of Experiments (DOE): change several factors at a time for each experiment, to determine testing approaches and their impact on cost of quality
  • Additional Quality Planning Tools
  • Loss Function: a financial measure of the user’s dissatisfaction with product performance
  • Matrix Diagrams: House of Quality (HOQ) used in Quality Function Deployment (QFD) (method to transform user demands [VOC]  into design quality)
  • Kano Model: differentiate features as satisfy, delight or dissatisfy
  • Marginal Analysis: cost-benefits analysis
  • Force Field Analysis (FFA): reviews any proposed action with proactive and opposing forces
  • Process Improvement Plan: process boundaries, configuration, process metrics/efficiencies, targets for improved performance
  • Quality Checklists: checklist to verify a series of steps have been performed
  • The goal is to refine the process so that human errors and outside influences no longer exist, and any remaining variations are completely random

Perform Quality Assurance

  • in the Executing Process Group
  • ensures the quality standards are being followed, to ensure unfinished works would meet the quality requirements
  • by quality assurance department or sponsor/customer not actively involved in the project
  • primarily concerned with overall process improvement for activities and processes (rather than the deliverable)
  • utilize the data collected in Control Quality Process
  • Quality Management Tools
    • Affinity Diagrams: like a mind-mapping diagram, organize thoughts on how to solve problems
    • Process Decision Program Charts (PDPC): defines a goal and the steps involved, useful for contingency planning
    • Interrelationship Digraphs: maps cause-and-effect relationships for problems with multiple variables/outcomes
    • Tree Diagrams
    • Prioritization Matrices: define issues and alternatives that need to be prioritized for decision, items are given a priority score through brainstorming
    • Activity Network Diagrams
    • Matrix Diagrams: e.g. ‘house of quality’ in QFD
    • Kaizen改善, Kanben看板: quality assurance methods developed by Japanese
  • Quality Audit: to verify quality of processes, to seek improvement, identify best practices, reduce overall cost of quality, confirm implementation of approved changes, need quality documentations
  • Quality Review: to review the quality management plan
  • change requests are mostly procedural changes

Control Quality

  • verify the deliverables against customer’s specifications to ensure customer satisfaction
  • validate the changes against the original approved change requests
  • conditional probability (events somewhat related) vs statistical independence (events not interrelated) vs mutual exclusivity
  • statistical sampling for control quality
  • variable (continuous) data: measurements, can do maths on e.g. average
  • attribute (discrete) data: yes/no, no.123, just an identifier, can’t do maths on
  • QC includes the PM process (lesson learnt, budget, scope)
  • tolerance (spec limits, deliverables acceptable) vs control limits (process acceptable)
  • if within control limit but outside tolerance: rework the process to give better precision
  • all control and execution processes may generate lesson learned


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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5 Responses

  1. Ksenia says:

    Hallo Edward, thank you your for your materials.

    Could you please explain about the common and speical causes in more detail? I thought the common causes were normal and the speical causes are those which you should take care of.

    I am referring to this paragraph of yours:

    if a process is within control limit but beyond specification limit, the process is experiencing common cause variation (random) that cannot be corrected by the system, management help is needed (special cause can be tackled but NOT common cause)

    How could it anyway be that the process is within control limit but beyond specification limit? I though the control limits are tougher. So if the process is beyond the specification limit then it is also beyond the control limit.

    Thank you very much in advance for your comments!

  2. Tim Cheng says:

    Hi Edward,

    Thanks for replying and letting me know.

    I definitely understand about the proprietary information piece – PMI is very particular about that. I hate to ask, but would you by any chance be able to e-mail me your ITTO tables? I’m assuming you created in excel? I’m pretty sure, sharing an excel table you created wouldn’t be an infringement, since you’re not publishing on your website?

    I just ask because I started to creating my own table by looking through the PMBOK and it’s taking me a LONG time. Since I’m working to create what you already created by going through the PMBOK, and merely putting this in excel, I wouldn’t consider that an infringement, nor what you would share with me.Again would save me a lot of time I could then devote to studying. But, if you feel uncomfortable with that no worries – want to make sure you feel you do the right ting, but thought it worth asking. Thanks!

    [email protected]

  3. Edward Chung says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks a lot for your comment.
    1) For the ITTOs, sorry that these are no longer available for fear of copyright infringements of PMI. I can no longer offer these online.
    2) For the PMP study notes, again for fear of copyright infringements, I have deleted those figures/tables that I have copied directly from PMBOK Guide / PM PrepCast. That’s why I would encourage PMP Aspirants to make their own study notes. But I did make use of the notes here as my last minute study notes that I brought to the PMP Exam centre.

    Wish you PMP success!


  4. Tim Cheng says:

    Hi Edward,

    Great notes, guidance, and advice on the PMP. Your advice on the PM Prepcast and highlighting the strengths of the three PMP study books really helped!

    Questions for you:

    1) The notes you provided help a lot. I can’t help but notice that the ITTO’S used to show up on the webpage showing the notes, but now I can only see them when downloading the PDF. It was very convenient when they were on the webpage because I could copy and paste them in table format into excel and make my own notes that way. However, I noticed I cannot do that with the PDF’s (just copies and pastes as a big text). Would you be able to share the ITTO’s as they were before or in some excel format?

    2) Your notes a great and succinct (4- 5 pages per chp). Are these the notes you studied off of for the test? I’m also taking notes as I go through PM Prepcast and Head First PMP book, and noticing my notes are like 20 -25 pages long. Obviously going off of your notes would be much more efficient if that is truly the distilled version of the only thing I need to study for. That would make me very happy. however, I’m guessing that is not the case. Could you confirm?

    Again, great job on providing a VERY useful resource for PMP Aspirants. Truly good way to expand the PM Body of Knowledge and paying it forward!

    Tim Cheng

April 9, 2014