PRINCE2 and the focus on quality
The quality of a completed project is measured by its success, and that success is measured by how the project’s outcomes compare to expectations. Therefore, project quality under PRINCE2 focusses on customer satisfaction, the conformity of the project outcomes to requirements, and the fitness of purpose of the finished project.
In this article, I’ll focus on how PRINCE2 requires and promotes focus on quality.
What is project quality?
Project quality refers to a number of factors under the PRINCE2 framework. These include:
The easy measurement of quality is simply to ask if the product (or people, processes, etc.) meets expectations of stated needs, or required specifications, or other requirements.
PRINCE2 project quality management
PRINCE2 coordinates the activities needed to direct and manage project quality. It sets the standards, procedures and responsibilities to maintain project quality by referencing three key aspects:
- Quality planning
- Quality control
- Quality assurance
Without a plan, there can be no control. Planning is about defining the requirements of the project. Every factor should have its quality criteria, methods and responsibilities of those involved defined.
Control is mostly reactive, focussing on operational techniques of those involved in the project. This includes inspecting, testing and developing ways of eliminating the causes of underachievement through the project cycle.
Quality control dovetails with the why, what and how of learning lessons in PRINCE2. In essence – inspect, test, learn and revise methods and techniques of operating to resolve inadequacies that cause quality deficiencies.
Quality assurance checks the project’s direction and management is commensurate with achieving its quality aims. It ensures that standards of work, supplies and policies comply with regulations and project management standards.
How quality assurance works in PRINCE2
Even though PRINCE2 defines quality assurance, it should be maintained independently. The responsibility falls on the project board independent of the project manager and project team. Quality assurance provides a level of confidence to the project’s stakeholders that the project will meet its objectives.
It’s important to understand that project quality planning and control rests with the project (board, manager, and team), while quality assurance is then undertaken independently of these. Still, it is the responsibility of project management to ensure that adequate quality assurance is organised.
When is quality assurance organised?
Quality assurance is part of the overall quality management strategy, and as such is prepared during the initiation stage of a project. This strategy determines how quality processes and strategies are applied to the project. This will give confidence to the customer and stakeholders about the quality of standards, techniques, procedures, tools and equipment used throughout the project.
The quality strategy formalises quality plans and controls, and outlines the arrangements for quality assurance, tests, checks, audits, and how lessons are learned. The metrics of quality measurement as well as responsibilities for quality will also be defined at this stage.
Who does what in PRINCE2 quality focus?
Taking the lead from who is responsible for what project function, PRINCE2 requires:
- The project manager to prepare and document quality planning, control, and assurance. The project manager also ensures that team managers implement all project quality control measures.
- Team managers ensure that products are created in line with quality requirements, and report back to the project manager with regards to project status.
- Project quality assurance advises the project manager on all quality issues, and assures the project board and customer that the project is meeting its quality expectations.
In my next article, and wrapping up this series of blogs discussing the seven principles of PRINCE2, I’ll look at how PRINCE2 requires an individual approach to projects.