Last modified 21/08/14

Quality: desired by many, obtained by few. How to get it?

by Elizabeth Van Den Bergh

When we think of quality, many words come to mind: best, beautiful, efficient, shiny, solid, lasting,…

It is a word so often used in communication and marketing.

But what is it? And how can we make sure we get quality results at the end of our project?

Meet requirements

According to PM4SD® (Project Management for Sustainable Development) the definition of quality is: a product’s ability to meet its requirements.

What I find remarkable about this definition is that quality is not something pre-defined or abstract, but it is exactly what we define it as. We define the requirements of our product or service.

As short and simple this definition is, as challenging and difficult it is to obtain quality when we are faced with changing deadlines, shifts in budget or an adapted scope.

Synonyms for quality are characteristic and feature. And it is exactly specific characteristics and features we have to strive for when defining the desired quality.

Shared view

It is crucial to have a common understanding of what quality is in our work and in the projects we work on. We must avoid the curse of knowledge; a situation where things are assumed but not made explicit.

Here is an example of a definition of quality from marketing: the online advertising on safe travel must appear to this profile (university student aged between 19 and 22) of user from May to August 2014 when he or she visits this webpage (the national online youth magazine).

The more your definition of quality is detailed, the more likely it is you will obtain the quality at the end.

Plan for quality

The definition of quality holds a promise. To make it happen we need to plan for quality.

We must define the quality we want upfront, not along the way. A clear definition of quality is not sufficient; we need as well a solid quality plan, a product description as well as a quality log. More on this in a later blog post.

(Photo: JD Hancock)