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Quality management is an issue that occupies the heart of any business enterprise because it determines how a product or service performs on the market. A project could be looked at as a product which must similarly be done and accomplished bearing in mind its quality because the clients who are the owners expect to be given a product that is of high quality. This report has been prepared as an analysis measures taken by of quality to the Texas Urban-Slum Health Initiative in order to ensure the quality of the finished project meets the established standards.
The report is structured in such a way that a number of important considerations for managing quality are looked at. In the first place, there is the introduction which sets out the background of the report. Next there is the project quality context which explores various measures that the project team has put in place to ensure quality is maintained. Quality planning and assurance considers the measures put in place to ensure that project managers or teams monitor implementation of the project, identify areas of weakness and recommend that they areas are fixed before the project moves to the next stage. Quality control teams make use of the set standards to evaluate the degree to which the project meets the requirements. Among the key conclusions, a project is a product and must be implemented in such a way that it meets the requirements. This can only be achieved if the project team puts in place measures and requirements that could be used to tell whether the project meets the set standards or not.
3.0 Introduction and Project Background
This report has been prepared for purposes of exploring the importance of quality management in a project. Customers are increasingly becoming sophisticated in their choice of goods and services. Their continuous demand for quality products and services has forced organizations which hope to prosper to commit themselves to offering quality. Such organizations have to put in place the requisite controls for addressing risks while monitoring and measuring their performance. Usually, projects are conceived and implemented for purposes of benefiting the clients. Such clients will definitely demand for value from the project. For purposes of this report, an example of such a project is the Texas Urban-Slum Health Initiative. The report will explore issues related to project quality, quality planning and assurance and quality control. The report will then make its conclusion and offer recommendations.
The Texas Urban-Slum Health Initiative was initiated in 2007 for purposes of providing subsidized medical care to slum dwellers in Texas. Funding for the project was done by World Bank together with the Federal government. The project is meant to put up the physical facilities, equip them and procure personnel. The project was supervised by officials from the World Bank, the Federal government and the community.
4.0 Project Quality Context
The project of the magnitude of the Texas Urban-Slum Health Initiative is quite crucial and all measures must be put in place to ensure that it complies with the requisite expectations. These are expectations from the sponsors and the beneficiaries. There has to be a well structured plan of managing quality so that the project means all these expectations.
In the first place, there was need to conform to management of the quality of the project in order to be sure that it conforms to the goals of the project. There are certain goals that were set up at the inception of the project, and which must be adhered to if the project is to meet the quality requirements. This is especially as far as designing and constructing the faculty is concerned. There was need to management the planning and implementation of the policies, requirements and procedures of the project so that quality is achieved. Quality control mechanisms were put in place to ensure that the work was being done and checked before it was accepted. Quality assurance mechanisms were also put in place to verify that the performance of control tasks. There was also continuous quality improvement in the project process, together with effective checks to ensure that the costs were also of acceptable (lower) quality (Calingo, 1996).
Measures were also put in place to establish the requirements and procedures of the project. The project quality management program (Godfrey, 1999) was put in place with the aim of defining the roles and responsibilities of each segment of the participants in the project in order to avoid duplication and conflict. Among other things, the project quality management program was applied in areas such as planning, programming and budgeting. It was also applied in project design, preparation of construction documents, bidding and the final constitution.
The management or project committee, having established the requirements, set out to build teamwork among the various stakeholders. These included the client, a representative of the owners, the planning and programming staff and the budgeting staff. There was also the facilities management staff, the project manager from the World Bank, the project manager from the project manager from the Federal government and the constriction manager, who is an external professional. There is also an architect and his consultant who was the design professional as well as the contractors. These included the construction contractor, some subcontractors, the project manager and the construction manager. All these individuals might not have worked together previously, and had to be put together to work as a team. The expectations of each of the stakeholders from the other were also defined. This is because the scope of the project is such that all the players had to work together in a smooth and coordinated manner.
The project has a number of facilities, with each one of them having a facility manager. Though these facilities were part of the whole project, they had been given some autonomy on certain matters including budgeting, procurement of personnel and decision on the time within which they would meet the quality requirements for their facilities in the course of each phase of the project. The facilities management staff was given this task. The purpose of this sort of affair is to give each facility the mandate of procuring their own resources so as to make sure that what they secure, in both personnel and material, is relevant to the activities they perform. It should however be noted that each of the actions of each facility had to be within the guidelines set by the overall project management committee.
There was similarly the need for the project team to continuously carry out an evaluation of the project to be sure that each phase was meeting the established quality requirements (Gifton, 1996). This way, it was easy and economical to point out areas where compliance to the set quality requirements was being beached, and corrective measures taken. During project evaluation for quality, the project team defined the expectations. It is these that would help then establish if certain expectations had been met or not. In cases where the set expectations hand been breached, the team would define the problem and share it out with the manager in charge of that particular area. Having done this, the team would then determine the type of requirements needed to for rectify the problem. This could be in terms if material, human resources, financial resources, time and so on. The team would also carry out an estimate of how much resources are needed. If the team established that there would be need for more resources, it would then determine if there was need to refine the cost of the project.
Periodic project evaluation helped the project team to assess its performance in the accomplishment of the project quality goals. This was done by gauging effectiveness against the established quality requirements, efficiency is sticking to the budget, adhering to the provided time schedule, compliance with the constraints imposed by the team as outlined in the project policies, programs and procedures, and the ability to establish, foster and sustain teamwork.
5.0 Quality Planning and Assurance
Like any other project, the Texas Urban-Slum Health Initiative management team developed a quality plan to ensure that the final project, once completed, would not only be fit for use, but exceedingly meet the customer's expectations, while remaining within the budget that the customer considers as having a representative value to him, throughout the project's lifetime (Gitlow and Gitlow 2006). Project quality was looked at from a business as well as a technical perspective. From the business perspective, the plan was meant to ensure that the project was completed on time. This was crucial because the clients were eager to begin utilizing the facility. As it were, the quality of the project is only valuable after it has been delivered to the client. The plan also wanted to ensure that the project is completed within the set budget. If it exceeds, it will not be valuable to client because it would mean forking out more resources in terms of money, personnel and delayed enjoyment of the benefits of the facility. The project's utility planning was meant to ensure that it meets the client's expectations when he begins utilizing it upon delivery. The last business consideration in quality planning was the ability of the project to remain stable for a long period of time. It would not make sense for the clients to enjoy its benefits for a brief period of time only for it to collapse shortly after.
Quality planning for the Texas Urban-Slum Health Initiative also considered the technical aspects of the project. This included compliance with the expected corporate standards in areas such as documentation, user interface, naming of various sections and so on. The stability of the technology used in putting up the facility and equipment installation was also considered. Quality planning also considered the soundness of system engineering to achieve robustness and ease of maintenance.
The project team understood that quality for the project could be looked at from two perspectives: the project quality perspective and the deliverable quality perspective (Wilkinson, and Hugh, 1996). Project quality was concerned with the application of practices of proper propjet management such as adherence to time, costs, communications, resource utilization and generally, covers management change within the project. The deliverable quality perspective dealt with project's ability to meet the needs of users, the total ownership costs etc. the project team for this project put in place measures that ensured both project quality and deliverable quality were met.
The project team ensured quality construction material such as tiles, bricks, cement, sand, etc was delivered and currently applied to the project in what is referred to as quality events. Quality planning dealt with the application of the quality materials and events to the execution of the project. Quality control dealt with how the quality events were implemented within the quality plan. Quality assurance dealt with the verification of the process of implementation to ensure it conforms to the accepted requirements. Quality matrices were used to identify areas that needed more quality improvement and measured how effective the quality of the improvement was (Beard, 1997). The team them ensured that the project was continuously improved for quality.
The project team was also concerned with issues that related to quality assurance (QA). This was due to the fact that they wanted the facility to be fit for purpose; the quality of being suitable to meet the intended purpose, and right first time; whereby mistakes, of any, are reduced to a bare minimum when the project is delivered (Hinckley, 1997). Among the issues that QA considered in this case was to regulate the quality of the materials used, the quality of workmanship, the components used, assembling of parts, management and so on. Quality assurance for this project was done by first scanning the site ands the environment in order to establish what needed to be done (Feldman, 2005). A project team with the requisite expertise was then assembled and mandated to make a plan of what needed to be done. The team for example established that the residents of the slums around Texas needed a health facility which could give them good medical services and subsidized rates. The team then decided to do something to improve on their situation. In the process of the project, they would often carry out inspections and make recommendations for improvements to be carried out on the facility in the course of construction. At times, new requirements would be conceived and recommendations for implementation suggested. Materials and other components that could not meet the requirements would often be rejected and new ones requested for. At each stage, facilities that could be tested independently would be tested, and after the project was complete, it was tested and mistakes fixed before it was delivered to the clients.
6.0 Quality Control
The project team came up with certain requirements the project must fulfill upon completion before it is delivered to the client (Porter, 1997). This is the essence of quality control, which is the process of checking and reviewing a project that has been done to ascertain if it meets the requirements previously set. Different facilities within the project were given different standards that they were meant to meet. Quality control is a kind of inspection that takes place during and after the project is completed (Buttle, 1997). The degree to which certain actions were meant to be performed was also established. These would later constitute the parameters that the quality control team would consider in deciding whether the project has met the required standards or not.
A number of quality control checks were put in place to ensure the highest quality of the project. In the first place, the raw materials such as cement, ballast, sand, stones and so on would be checked before they were allowed to proceed to the utilization level. If any material as much as failed to meet the set requirements, the supplier would be requested to ship it back and bring in the required one. If for one reason or the other the supplier failed to supply raw materials meeting the standards after being given time to comply, the tender for the supply of such material would be canceled.
Quality control also involved the assessment of the various stages of the project while it was in progress (Heller, 1994). The various rooms, offices and utility spaces would be checked periodically. If an anomaly was identified in any one of the facilities during the construction, the quality control team would point it out to the facility manager and the project managers. The team would recommend that alterations should be made so that the facility could meet the set standards. Sometimes if a worker consistently made errors in his performance of duty, he would be asked to improve or get the sack. This is because the quality assurance team was interested in an incremental form of quality where errors made would be corrected before the facility was moved to the next stage. It was considered easier to make corrections during the construction process that at the just in case certain defects called for a complete pulling down of a structure. This would have been costly, besides delaying the delivery of the project to the client.
Quality control checks were also done at the end of the project before the project was handed over to the client (Murphy, 1996). A number of system errors were identified and fixed during testing. Rooms were tested to see if they could meet the function for which they had been put up. These included emergency units, wards, theaters, doctors' offices and so on. The equipment that had been put in place was also tested for quality. Those that were found to make mistakes were either repaired or replaced. Such cases were however rare because most of the quality control checks had been done to rectified in the course of the project.
Another aspect of the project that had to be assessed for quality was the human resources (Morgan, 1996). Since this is a medical facility, care had to be taken so that only qualified persons secured jobs in the facility. These included doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, counselors, lab technologists, pharmacists and so on. Rigorous recruitment procedures were put in place to ensure quality was maintained. A recruitment agency that specializes in health care professionals was utilized in order to get the best employees. The human resources were evaluated in terms of experience, skills and qualifications. Upon ascertaining that the project had been done in conformity with the established standards, it was finally delivered to the client.
Another component of the project that the quality control team sought to evaluate is what is referred to as the soft element (Kinni, 1995). These include the integrity of the employees, the culture of the organization, confidence, teamwork and motivation as well as quality relationships. Since these constitute part of the personnel that the facility is meant to have for smooth operations, their quality had to be evaluated.
Related to the process of quality control is the aspect of benchmarking (Helen, 1996). In the process of putting up the facility, some experts would be requested to visit similar facilities elsewhere to find out how they were constructed and how they operate. If there were any strong points identified by the visiting teams of experts, they could be borrowed and utilized in the project. Even when the project was operational, benchmarking continued because the quality of the services offered to the clients had to remain of high standards. Though profit making was not part of the goals of this project, commitment to the provision of high quality services remained a priority for the project managers.
From the analysis carried out above, it can be established that a good project is one that is conceived with certain goals in mind. The goals would spell out what the project is meant to achieve, and will keep the various teams focused on the objectives. This has the advantage of minimizing situations and activities that could derail the entire project. Together with the objectives of the project is a deliberate attempt at making sure that the project meets certain requirements of quality standards. In order to ensure that these set standards are adhered to, there is need to carry out quality planning and assurance. These would help the project managers monitor the project and various levels and recommend changes where they feel certain requirements have been breached. This having been done, the project needs to have a team that monitors and controls the quality of the project to ensure soundness when it is delivered to the client. Most importantly, since any project involves utilization of resources, it should be carried out in such a way that the end product can be said to have quality commensurate with the resources invested in it. It is not just a matter of the end justifying the means, but that of the means leading to an end that one could celebrate about.
It is recommended that any person in changed of a particular project must establish the project goals that would act as a guide to the implementation of the project. Since quality has become so central in the way customers or clients perceive a particular product and service, project managers must put in place measures that could help them achieve the highest quality for their customers and clients. In order to achieve quality in terms of the project, managers should make sure they establish reliable teams with which to work. Managers should also put in place certain parameters that could help them realize quality for their clients. Specific quality planning and assurance standards must be complied with. Managers must supervise the project to be certain that compliance has been achieved. Similarly, quality control mechanisms should be put in place. These mechanisms should not just target products, services and processes, but the personnel too. This is because personnel form an important segment in the project's implementation and operation. Some of the processes are ongoing and therefore project managers must ensure there are sufficient and qualified personnel to keep evaluating the project and making recommendations for change whenever need arises. Quality must be ongoing, not transient.