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Quality Management Concepts for IT Projects

Discuss about the Quality Management for Cost and Project Planning.

Information Technology projects are implemented in any institution for reducing the cost, improving the performance and profit. In most cases, successful execution of these IT project becomes inevitable due to its link with the crucial business objectives of any organisation. There exist many criteria for determining the success of the project and the level of success is accessed not by a single factor but using various factors (Thomas & Fernández, 2008). Even though delivery of successful project depends on various aspects of project management like time constraints, risk management, cost and project planning, quality management plays a very essential role in shaping the project towards its goal.   

Quality management ensures that all project activities that are required for planning, designing and implementation of the project are well organised and in accordance with the project objective and scope. The Quality management process is a set of instruction that is executed to ensure that the produced output of the project is within the scope of the project. Quality Management in an IT project begins with defining the scope and setting up the target for quality which is decided by the client. The Quality management process begins from the inception of the project which is connected to defining the project scope and it only concludes in the end when the scope of the project is met. 

Quality management concepts refer to the basic principles that give an insight of the most important factors to consider in ensuring that projects are done according to certain quality standards and regulations. Until recently, the responsibility of assuring project quality has always been considered to be consummated by the functional specialists involved in projects and the development and design engineering teams mandated with the most technical projects. Project management quality has been an issue of concern in the IT sector due to the impact it has on the organizations and the public at large.  So many individuals such as Mr John L. Patterson have been in the forefront of sensitizing the public on the importance of project management quality issues.

Quality in a project refers to the attribute or characteristic of the project. How the specific requirements of that particular project met and what are is the implication of meeting these requirements. The quality of a project is also seen to represent the degree of excellence or superiority of a project. How is the IT project superior or positively different from any other similar projects done before? The quality of a project will highly determine its operations and whether it has the capability of meeting the objectives set for it at the beginning of the project.

Quality Management

Every organization will prefer very quality IT projects that will facilitate them to meet their target goals and objectives intended for the projects therefore quality management becomes an issue of concern in the IT sector.

In the above paragraph, we have been discussing what quality is and why it is an important aspect of IT projects. Quality management in projects involve planning, implementing, scoping and monitoring of quality aspects throughout all the project cycle phases right from conceptualization all the way the final delivery of the project. Quality management entails the knowledge and skill to create and manage a team of people and guide them to attain certain qualitative that is achievable within a given time frame and within the limits of the allocated budget. Ensuring this will eventually result in a quality product or service delivered to the target market. Selecting the parameters specified in a project as well as the procedures and systems required to guarantee quality are some of the activities involved in promoting quality in all phases of a project.

 Quality assurance is a critical task in the project management process specifically in IT projects. This process always commences with creating a plan and proceeding to the drawing board in engineering specification, design, planning and scheduling as well as a selection of the required materials in a project. If the materials and equipment selected to be used in the project are of high standards then it is obvious that the final project will be of good quality.  Therefore quality assurance is a crucial component in ensuring quality management of a project in the information and technology sector. 

Quality control process begins from the initial stages of a project all the way up to the final phase of a project.  The quality control process entails the activities in the procurement of necessary materials and the inspection of the materials after purchase to check for compliance and any damages that may interfere with the quality standards of the project.  Adhering to inspection methods and following installation regulations in the project are some of the ways to monitor the quality control process. This process ensures that the quality of the project is not compromised throughout the IT project life cycle. 

The cost of the project is a very critical aspect that has to be considered in any IT project undertaken. This process is mainly composed of the budgeting aspects, identification and allocation of various resources. The many components of the project from the conceptualization to the final realization of the product or service but all these components must take place within the allocated budget. There is no cost-effectiveness without quality throughout all the phases of the project. To ensure this let's look some budgeting principles and how they affect the quality of a project. 

Quality Assurance

The budgeting process involves making the most appropriate estimations of the costs involved in the project and has an important role in determining the cost of a project. The budget allocated for the project will determine the standard of materials procured and the project specifications, therefore, determining the overall quality of the final project. 

Project Scope is a formal description of the deliverable of the project and forms the base for any project to plan their budget. It is also considered one of the important factors for project success in the information system areas (Agarwal and Rathod, 2006). The budget is made smoother and costs overrun are minimised by defining the scope and ensuring the requirements and the deliverables of the project are defined clearly. A comprehensive outline of the project scope provides an opportunity to complete the project within the quality constraints, within the budget and for the specified time frame. Project scope tends to change within the lifetime of the project, especially in Information Technology projects. IT projects scope might change because for the need of new technology, or different functionalities requirements from the client, or could be market driven factors (?iri? & Rakovi?, 2010) which might prove to be an opportunity or a challenge. This change needs to be integrated with budget, time and quality based on the size and complexity of the changed scope. Conclusively, Project scope is the baseline for project budgeting and any changes in the scope will affect budgeting. 

All the activities and tasks involved in an IT project have to be identified and documented clearly to ensure all the requirements and deliverables of the project are met. The sequencing, duration and dependencies of every specific task have to clearly detailed to ensure the quality of the project is met (Karami, & Guo, 2012). The large and complex tasks have to be broken down into smaller and simpler tasks that are easy to monitor and ensure the quality of the project is not compromised. 

Each resource requirement and activity is then mapped to establish the cost per activity. The cost of using each resource is defined since every resource has a price. Each resource is allocated at a unit cost over a time period. However, this anticipated cost estimates should be reasonable and based on some perceptible source like similar past projects, research factor (Dugdale & S. Lyne, 2006). The projected cost of activity should also have documents supporting the assumptions, constraints and risks on the estimates. The budgeting process is dependent on the activities and scheduling. Identifying activities to give the various project results will sum up to a justifiable cost baseline.   

Conclusion

Quality management is an important aspect to be considered in the formulation and implementation of projects. Quality Management in an IT project is the set of procedures and instructions carried out in order to achieve and maintain the required project quality. Quality of the project is normally the scope of the project or meeting the customer requirements. For an IT project to be successful and beneficial for the end user, it is essential that the project is of good quality. Budgeting is an integral part of project management. It is important for project success measurement, checking for any variances or comparing expenditure versus allocation over time. It is very crucial for every business organization to incorporate quality management in information technology for effective business operation and prosperity.  This involves the use of systems software, computer hardware, application software and database closely associated with managing the information of an organization.This can include the use of software estimation techniques.

Reference 

Agarwal, N., & Rathod, U. (2006). Defining ‘success’ for software projects: An exploratory revelation. International journal of project management, 24(4), 358-370.

Chang, S. I., Yen, D. C., Ng, C. S. P., & Chang, W. T. (2012). An analysis of IT/IS outsourcing provider selection for small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan. Information & Management, 49(5), 199-209.

?iri?, Z., & Rakovi?, L. (2010). Change management in information system development and implementation projects. Management Information System, 5(1), 23-028.

Dugdale, D., & Lyne, S. (2006). Budgeting. Financial Management, 14719185, 32-35.

Karami, A., & Guo, Z. (2012, January). A fuzzy logic multi-criteria decision framework for selecting IT service providers. In System Science (HICSS), 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on (pp. 1118-1127). IEEE.

Paasivaara, M., Durasiewicz, S., & Lassenius, C. (2009, July). Using Scrum in distributed agile development: A multiple case study. In Global Software Engineering, 2009. IGCSE 2009. Fourth IEEE International Conference on (pp. 195-204). IEEE.

Thomas, G., & Fernández, W. (2008). Success in IT projects: A matter of definition?. International journal of project management, 26(7), 733-742.

Yang, I. T. (2005). Impact of budget uncertainty on project time-cost tradeoff. IEEE Transactions on engineering management, 52(2), 167

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