Validate Scope and Control Quality – PMP/CAPM

Control Quality, Validate Scope and Quality Assurance are three terminologies which keep bugging every new PMP Aspirant.  In the following article, I tried to make the two terms clear and then you might want to read the other one to be crystal clear with these terminologies.

Control Quality

Control Quality is the process of supervising and recording outcomes of executing the quality management practices to evaluate the overall performance and make sure the project outputs are complete and meet the client expectations.

The Control Quality process takes place internally to ensure that deliverables meet the stated requirements. In this process, you will be given the specifications of deliverables that will be compared with designed specifications. Accordingly, the corrective actions will be taken to meet all defined quality requirements. This is particularly crucial in project management since it makes sure that all activities are in the scope of project planning. Also, it helps in formulating recommendations, if important. The significant benefits of control quality include validating the deliverables, determining poor product quality, meeting the client’s requirements, and recommending actions required to eliminate concerns associated with quality. To execute control quality, it is crucial to use the right inputs from the project management plan, quality checklist, accepted change requests, deliverables, and quality metrics.

Example:

Consider a situation where you will receive a contract of building 100 km road. You will perhaps hire a quality control engineer to monitor the quality of construction. They will be responsible for evaluating the quality of deliverables at each phase of construction such as the dimensions of road, alignment of the footpath and quality of raw materials.

Control Quality ensure that the deliverables meet the quality requirements as given in the quality management plan. It focuses on the accuracy of the deliverables and is typically performed by the quality control department. On the other hand, Validate Scope is all about formalizing the acceptance of deliverables under project scope management. It focuses on the acceptance of deliverables and is typically performed by the client or sponsor. In the Validate Scope process, the project manager holds multiple meetings with the client to review the deliverables and make sure they meet the defined requirements.  Validate Scope and Control Quality are implemented as an important part of the monitor and control process group. However, Validate Scope can also be performed at the end of every project phase to verify the deliverables. Though both Control Quality and Validate Scope practices can lead to change requests.

Validate Scope

Validate Scope is the process of reinforcing acceptance of the finished project deliverables.

The project team achieves the allocated activities to complete the project scope and the project deliverables. As soon as the deliverables are finished, they are evaluated by the client. A deliverable is accepted once the client approves it after performing the validate scope process. The process aims to ensure that the client approves the product officially. The key benefit of the process is the increased objectivity and likelihood of the success of the final product. During the stakeholder assessment in the planning phase, every stakeholder identifies the approved and disapproved deliverables. As the evaluation results are submitted, the project manager must review the list to ensure all deliverables meet project criteria and changes are made where required.

Example:

Suppose you have completed 40 km out of 150 km of the road construction. Subsequently, you invite the client to review the completed part of the road. If they officially accept it, you will be paid. On the contrary, if the client figures out that the requirements are not met. He will have a detailed analysis of the road dimensions. Once the client is fully satisfied, he will assign an acceptance letter. This process is known as the validate scope. It is essential that the validate scope process is performed at the end of the project.

Validate Scope

The differences between the Control Quality and Validate Scope

  1. Control Quality is inward looking Process whereas Validate Scope is Handshake i.e outward looking process
  2. Control Quality makes the product right i.e conformance of requirement and Control Quality makes sure that Product is right i.e Acceptance of the project.
  3. Control Quality belongs to Project Quality management and Validate Scope is a Project Scope Management process.
  4. You have QC team doing the Control Quality and Project manager/Sponsor does the Validate Scope after the successful passing of Product from Control Quality Process.

Further Readings

  1. Project Quality Management
  2. Monitoring and Controlling Process group
  3. Project Scope Management

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Quality Assurance and Control Quality – PMP/CAPM

The following write up explains the difference between the Quality Assurance and the control Quality.

Quality is the degree to which a set of inherent (existing) characteristics fulfils requirements. ISO 9000

Quality Assurance

A set of activities that ensure quality in the processes by which end products are developed.

Quality Assurance (QA) is the procedure used to generate the deliverables. It focuses on scheduling, documenting, and supporting the certain course of actions that are essential to assuring quality. The process carries out at the beginning of a project and draws on specifications according to company standards. The results of the quality assurance planning activities are quality strategies, review and test plans, an assortment of tracking tools, and training individuals for specific techniques and procedures. The primary purpose of QA is to avert any shortcomings. It’s a management practice used to guarantee a specific level of quality for an enterprise.

 “part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.” ISO 9000

Undertaking quality assurance at the very beginning of a project is the key to alleviate the identified risks. Besides, communication plays a significant role in managing project risk and is essential for realizing efficient QA. Some prominent examples of quality assurance include project audits, checklists, strategy and guidelines development. Auditing is an essential part of the quality assurance that helps in comparing definite settings with defined requirements and report to the management. The auditor may use review techniques as an assessment tool. Though it doesn’t involve in corroboration activities that result in either acceptance or rejection of the final product. An audit leads to the evaluation of the procedure and controls covering the assembly and verification activities.

The Manage Quality process involves performing systematic quality activities and uses quality audits and failure analysis to determine which processes should be used to achieve the project requirements, to meet the quality objectives of the project, and to ensure that activities and processes are performed efficiently and effectively. Kim Heldman 9th Edition

QA aims to emphasize on the process that is used to create the product. It significantly helps in enhancing development and test procedures so the flaws don’t arise when the project is complete. Additionally, it formulates a quality management system and the evaluation of its competence. Deterrence of quality issues through deliberate and methodical activities include documentation. Statistical tools and techniques are applied to quality assurance in processing inputs and functional parameters.

Quality Control and Quality Assurance

Quality Control is not a Quality Assurance Process

Control Quality 

A set of activities that ensure quality in products. The undertakings focus on classifying issues in the real products produced.

Quality Control (QC) are quality associated activities with the conception of project deliverables. It is used to authenticate that deliverables are of standard quality and they are complete. It involves activities that are intended to identify the level of quality of the distributed solutions. Quality control comprises of functional strategies and activities used to accomplish requirements for quality. These procedures are settled with stakeholders before project work has started.

Quality control includes confirmation of productivity to anticipated quality levels. The solutions are checked against client requirements with diverse checks being directed at planned points throughout the project. Project team use a variety of techniques and carry out testing and inspections to make sure the final project meets the approved set of requirements. QC activities include review, deliverable peer evaluations, and testing procedure.

 “part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements.” ISO 9000

QC purposes to determine defects in the complete product. It aims to identify issues after a product is complete and prior to its release. These activities or strategies are used to accomplish and maintain product quality, procedure, and service. Quality control is the responsibility of particular team members who test the products. When statistical tools and techniques are executed to final products, this is known as statistical quality control.

Quality control is all about following the defined requirements. It has no concern with the particular requirements of the product being developed. QC activities are carried out after the completion of the product. On the contrary, the activities involved in quality assurance are identified before the completion of the project and while the project is in the developing phase.

Examples:

In a factory producing pencils, a quality control manager will count the number of faulty pencils before they leave the production phase. These items and then measured and rejected. On the other hand, a quality assurance manager will evaluate the results of pencils and recommend improvements accordingly.

Consider another example of a software development project, the quality control manager will test the code once it is written. While the quality assurance manager develops consistent code blocks and makes sure that all resources are in place to progressively create the best quality product. Moreover, quality control includes the measurement of shortcomings in the final production line and quality assurance involves the procedure that identifies improvements within the process.

Comparison Quality Control vs Quality Assurance

The quality assurance relates to how a process is performed or how a product is made, quality control is more the inspection aspect of quality management.**

Quality Assurance or Manage Quality

Quality Assurance and qaulity Control

Source: The Difference Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control

 

  • Process-related
  • Proactive
  • Audit
  • Prevention
  • Project Managerial function
  • Quality Verification
  • Creating Deliverables

Quality Control

  • Product related
  • Reactive
  • Check
  • Inspection
  • Independent Organizational function
  • Quality Validation
  • Verifying Deliverables

QC is used to verify the Quality of the output;

QA is the process of managing for quality.

Benefits of Quality Management

  • The high-quality output which confirms the requirement and fit for use.
  • They increase the efficiency of operations by removing the waste from the processes
  • They provide customer satisfaction, which affects your brand and helps in growing your business.
  • Conformance of Quality helps brand retention and brand awareness.
  • They encourage a high level of confidence and a motivated team

Further Readings

  1. Project Quality Management
  2. Executing Process Group
  3. Monitoring and Controlling Process group
  4. QUALITY CONTROL & QUALITY ASSURANCE**
  5. The Difference Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control

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Project Float and Free Float- PMP/CAPM

Free Float

The amount of duration in which the scheduled activity can be deferred without postponing the subsequent scheduled activities.

In project management, free float refers to the duration that spans from the finishing point of a scheduled activity while extending to the upcoming planned activities. It is measured by subtracting the primary end of the activity from the early beginning of the subsequent activity. Once you identify the time period, subtract it from the expected total time of completion of the first activity. In case there is no following activity, you will primarily use the project end date to determine the free float window in the project network. Free float is only measured on the final activity in an activity sequence. It is calculated individually for each activity.

Example:

If an activity has a time period of six days and is occurring parallel with another activity which has a duration of nine days, the former will have approximately three days of total float. It can be postponed up to three days without affecting the overall project. On the other hand, if it is delayed by five days, it will come with a negative float situation i.e. – 2 days. This means that the project will take two more days than the expected duration.

Project Float

The duration in which the given task is delayed before it affects the deadline for the project.

Project managers often use float time to schedule the certain time frames for the tasks to be accomplished on time. The project float doesn’t influence the deadlines of other following tasks. To make the most of the float, it’s important to determine the critical path and measure the amount of float in every non-critical task. Also, it helps in visualizing the project using Gantt chart. That way, you can reorganize tasks into specific chains and reassign the resources and work schedules accordingly to maximize efficiency. It’s important to revise float estimate as the project continues. For instance, if a specific task takes longer than expected, you may want to use the estimated float to compensate it. One simple way to calculate project float is to deduct the duration you have assigned to complete a task from the time the task will take in real. Suppose you have assigned 12 days for a task, though it only takes 8 days to complete. The approximate slack will be 4 days.

Float

Flot

Total Float aka Float

The time period in which the scheduled activity may be postponed from its early start date without deferring the project finish date or intermediate milestone.

Total float refers to the amount of time an activity can be postponed without delaying the complete project duration. Project managers must know the estimated total float time available at the very beginning of the project. Total float refers to the delayed duration that doesn’t interfere with the project completion deadline. Since unexpected occurrences can happen anytime from poor weather conditions to the sudden emergency of a team member. For that reason, the project manager should estimate the total float so the project is finished on time. To find a total float, one important technique is to use a critical path that helps in identifying the earliest possible and latest finishing point. Preferably, a project should not go beyond the latest finish date to keep the project running on a defined schedule. Total float is calculated considering the difference between the initial and late start date (LS – ES) or the initial and late finish date (LF – EF).  Total float is common between the activities in an arrangement. The structure is defined as the undertakings between a path convergence and path divergence.

Important Notes on Free Float, Project Float and Total Float

  1. Any project activity with a float time that equals 0 or with negative float is considered a critical path task.
  2. Total Float is for the project and again for activities not on Critical Path
  3. Free Float is on individual activities and those which are not on Critical Path
  4. Buffers and Total Floats are not the same. Buffers are added as contingency reserves whereas total float is due to its placement in the Network Diagram.
  5. Same like Buffers and Total Floats, Lags and Free Float are not the same. Lags are introduced by the scheduling team whereas Free Floats are because of their placement
  6. An Activity may have different Free Float and Total Float

Formula Free Float and Total Float

  • Total Float = LF – EF (or LS – ES)
  • Free Float = ES of next activity – EF

Further Readings

  1. Project Schedule Management
  2. Planning Process Group

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Budget and Cost Estimates- PMP/CAPM

Budget and Cost Estimates are two terminologies that even senior project managers use them interchangeably all the time. Well! one may say that these are the opposite side of the same coin.

Estimate – To produce a statement of the approximate cost of (Merriam-Webster Online, http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/estimate)

Budget – plan expressed in quantitative, usually monetary, terms that covers a specific period of time (Accounting Text & Cases, Anthony, Hawkins, and Merchant, Twelfth Edition, page 697)

Budget

The budget of a project is put together using the project schedule and cost estimates. It provides an overview of the cost from a periodic perspective. The project budget must align with the organization’s funding limitations to make sure adequate finances are available. Typically, budget refers to the sum of money that has been assigned for a purpose. In terms of project management, a budget represents an accepted estimate for either the complete project or for a specific schedule activity or work breakdown structure. At times, the budget is modified with approval from the higher authority. Though the ideal situation is to stick to the pre-defined budget.

Project budget determines the total amount of finances allocated for the project use. Project manager along with the consultation of team estimates the project budget. This comprises of all the costs that are required to complete the project. If the project budget is estimated poorly, you will perhaps need to modify the budget sooner or later. A project manager usually uses four techniques to estimate the budget including parametric, analogous, top-down, and bottom-up.

Budget is an effective tool to estimate the costs and essential efforts for projects, work packages, and activities associated with project management. Cost budgeting involves the approximation of costs, setting a certain budget, and managing and monitoring the actual costs in comparison to the estimated ones. These costs are assigned to the project activities and work packages in a project. A prudently executed schedule and resource plan allow a more precise cost budgeting. However, changes are made in the following circumstances:

  • There is scope variation
  • A new budget is more practical
  • Planned costs are not adequate for certain tasks
Budget and Cost Estimates

Budget and Cost Estimates

 

The cost estimate is a list and quantification of all of those with a dollar amount attached to it. Budgeting relies on that good estimates. Budgeting is the process of identifying not the amounts, but the sources of the funds to be used to cover the cost estimate.

Cost Estimates

To progress in the field of project management, the capability to estimate the cost is crucial to the project. Being a project manager, accurate and realistic estimates are important to estimate metrics that need to be executed. A project manager helps in preparing accurate estimates to get all inputs appropriate when calculating the cost. Typically, there are two ways to estimate the cost of a project including ROM and definitive estimate. The cost estimates are just the costs associated with the activities and work packages in the project schedule. The cost estimate is determined using parametric, three-point, or analogous estimating techniques primarily depending on the work package or activity.

Estimating is a crucial part of project planning comprising a quantitative estimate of project finances, resources, and duration. Cost estimation in project management is the procedure of predicting the financial and other resources required to complete a project within a definite scope. Cost estimation involves every element needed for a project from materials to finances and estimates a total amount that defines a project budget. For this, an initial cost estimate is determined that figure out whether the project should be moved forward. If the cost estimation is very high, an organization may not want to proceed with the project or modify the tasks according to their affordability. As the project progresses, the cost estimate is used to manage all associated costs to keep the project on budget.

Summary of Budget and Cost Estimates

Ideally, all the  estimates should be organized against Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and simple roll-up will be converted directly to the budget

An estimate is an approximation of what your project (or piece of it) will cost. The budget is what you’re allowed to spend. The estimate provides a guideline, the budget provides hard edges. You can’t go ‘over-estimate’, but you can go over-budget.  Management usually speaks in ‘budget’ terms, the team in ‘estimate’ terms.PM4NGOS

In the best-case scenario, the estimate comes before the budget. The sequence would be:

  1. Scope is prepared
  2. Schedule is prepared
  3. Cost Estimate built
  4. Budget determined

Further Readings

    1. Project Cost Management
    2. Planning Process Group
    3. PM4NGOSMudassir Iqbal, Professional Skills Trainer
    4. What is the Difference Between Project Cost Estimate and Project Budget?Mudassir Iqbal, Professional Skills Trainer

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