Project Management Quality - Joseph M. Juran

04 August, 2014

Anyone who has visited a factory where quality is vital to business will probably have seen a poster featuring a lonely, long-distance runner over the caption: “In Quality, the Race is never Run”. This must be the most demotivating slogan ever conceived – why start a race if there is no end? But when one of the pioneers of the quality movement, Joseph Moses Juran, worked well into his nineties, you get an understanding why quality people tend to think in the long term.

When studying for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® accreditation, you may have met Juran as you came to grips with Project Quality Management. Juran is famous for his definition of quality as “fitness for use”. But, like W. Edwards Deming, his chief claim to fame is his involvement with Japanese industry and its push to compete globally after the Second Word War. Back in those days, “Made in Japan” was a euphemism for cheap, shoddy products. Reinforcing the long-distance runner analogy, it took until 1975 before the Japanese matched the West in terms of quality. It made a lot of sense for the Japanese to approach Juran for help. His management techniques, developed in the famous Hawthorne Western Electric plant, were applied to process military supply orders during the war and reduced processing time from an average of 99 days to a mere 36 hours!

Probably Juran’s most significant legacy is his “Quality Trilogy” where he advocates Quality Planning, Quality Improvement and Quality Control.

Under the Quality Planning heading, Project Managers are expected to identify who the customers are, determine the needs of those customers, translate those needs into terms that we understand, develop a product, service or result that can respond to those needs and optimize the deliverables the better to meet those needs. So Quality Planning revolves around the project’s deliverables.

To consider the process used to realize these deliverables, Project Managers have to use Quality Improvement. This is where we develop a process to produce the deliverables and optimize this process.

Finally, Quality Control is where the Project Manager proves that the process can produce the deliverable under operating conditions with minimal inspection. Once confident that this process works, the Project Manager can transition the process to an operations function, such as manufacturing.

In many ways, this is very reminiscent of the Shewhart Cycle – Plan Do Check Act. Quality Planning maps nicely onto Plan and Do; Quality Control looks like the Check step; with Quality Improvement being the Act stage. Veterans of Lean Principles will be reminded of the “Amplify Learning” idea that uses control theory to obtain feedback from the work we have done already.

For Production Managers Quality is all about repeatability. The goal is to have identical products come off the assembly line, day in, day out. The manufacturing process is constantly observed and tweaked to reduce variability and, also, to eliminate waste, thereby reducing cost. However, for the Project Manager, tasked with developing the product in the first place, quality is about effectiveness rather than efficiency. A Project Management Professional (PMP)® can add value to the project by insisting on the evaluation of alternative solutions, by reviewing designs carefully to remove errors before they are put into production and bringing the production people into the process as key stakeholders. Too often design engineers forget the concerns of manufacturing and produce products that are complicated and expensive to build. It is to these engineers that Juran’s Quality Control is aimed.

For anyone interested in Juran’s work, there is plenty of material for you to consider – he has worked for over 70 years after all! Probably his best known works are the “Quality Control Handbook”, first published in 1954 and “Managerial Breakthrough”, where he described his Japanese experiences, hit the book shelves in 1964. The “Quality Control Handbook” is now in its sixth edition which was published in 2010!

His other books include: “Management of Quality Control” from 1967, “Quality Planning and Analysis” from 1970, “Upper Management and Quality” from 1980 and “Juran on Planning for Quality” from 1988. In 1979, Juran set up his eponymous foundation and has published many white papers relating to his consultancy work since then. There is a lot to explore.

Velopi’s project management training courses cover Project Quality Management. If this is an area of interest to you, our project management certification courses are held in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Find out more by visiting our training page or by contacting us directly.

By Velopi Seamus Collins

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