Successful Projects: The Project Quality Management Plan

Quality Plan Management

Project Quality Management Plan

A project quality management plan is a necessary part of any sound project execution plan.  It provides clarity about how quality will be achieved during the project and addresses Quality Assurance (QA), Quality Control (QC), how risk will be incorporated into quality, and how quality-related lessons learned will be actioned.  It also gives the project sponsor/project owner a document that they can approve, use as the basis for QA audits, and reference to show stakeholders and regulators that quality is a priority for the project. 

Project Quality Management Plan vs Quality Management Program

A quality management plan is used in project management whereas a quality management program is typically how quality management is documented in an operating environment.  Both describe the system that will be followed for quality management, but a plan is for a specific project scope while a program is for the continual operating environment once the project has been commissioned.  Both must provide relevant details about how the quality policy requirements will be met. 

Quality Management Plan As A Standard

Quality plans should clearly identify how quality management will be executed on the project.  It is recommended that the quality management plan be developed by the project owner representative, approved by the owner and that it becomes a technical standard for the project.  As a standard, all contractor and subcontractor plans must either meet or exceed its requirements.  This encourages a consistent approach to quality throughout the project. 

Quality Management Plan Contents

Among other things, the project quality management plan identifies key quality-critical processes that must be monitored by quality.  Key steps in each quality-critical process are outlined in point form and can be included in an appendix.  For example, the key elements of an interdisciplinary engineering document review would be identified and the key elements would be expected in the interdisciplinary engineering document review procedure for each engineering company involved in the project.  This is different than providing a specific procedure that must be followed – only key steps are discussed. 

The plan must describe how the project will perform:

  • QA (including key process steps),
  • QC,
  • Quality-related risk management,
  • Lessons learned capture and dissemination,
  • Quality group organization and roles.

QA is focused on the processes while QC is focused on inspection and testing of process outputs.  The quality management plan should require that an audit schedule be developed to ensure that each process identified in the plan is audited in a timely manner. The plan should also address how and when contractor and supplier QA will be performed and who is responsible for performing it. 

The Quality management plan should also identify who is responsible for QC inspection and testing, requirements for inspection and testing plans and approvals, any oversight and notification requirements, required qualifications for third-party testing companies, and record storage requirements.  The project quality plan often requires that relevant Inspection and Testing Plans (ITPs), inspection and test record templates, and relevant testing procedures be placed in a separate document known as a Quality Manual.  All companies involved in the project would have to verify that their records provide at least as much information as the templates in the standard. 

Project Quality Management Processes

The project’s quality management team is responsible for coordinating the project quality.  All quality processes expected to be used on the project should also be identified in the project quality management plan.  Because there are often major differences in how various contractors and subcontractors approach and execute quality activities, key steps in each process, including closure, must be identified to generate a project-wide understanding of how to identify and resolve quality issues on the project.  This includes audit notifications, nonconformance reports, and audit reports.  Procedures for each process should be developed and approved by the owners to ensure they are all aligned with the quality management plan standard.

Process and Risk Approach to Quality

Quality uses the process approach and is risk-based (ISO 9001; 2015).  How this will be accomplished in the overall project setting needs to be discussed in the plan.  Risk is also a key element in the nonconformance reporting process, auditing process, and turnover deficiency process.  Key processes that are expected to be used in the project should be identified and assessed for risk.  The risk assessment should look at each process, assume the process fails, and determine if its failure results in a risk to the project.  If the answer is yes, then the process should be identified in the quality plan and key elements of the process should be noted.  If the answer is no, then the process can be left out.  For example, if the office supplies ordering process fails, it will not cause a significant risk to the project but if the document control process fails, the project is in jeopardy.  

What is a project owner? 

Typically, the company, department, or person paying for the project is the owner.  The same owner may have several projects underway at once and scopes for each may be different.  For example, an owner may be building a new facility for chemical production and, at the same time, implementing a new management software.  It is likely that each different project has its own quality management plan. 

What is a quality program? 

In an operating facility, there is typically a single quality program in place.  The quality program would apply to all aspects of the operation and include all departments and their key activities.  For example, an operating mine may have a quality plan that addresses all underground and surface activities, SHE, purchasing, local communications, and a host of other elements because quality goes much deeper into an organization than just production testing.

What is the difference between a quality policy and a quality plan? 

A quality policy is a one-to-two-page document that establishes the owner organization’s requirements for quality.  There is one quality policy for the whole organization.  The project quality plan is an intermediate-level document that describes how the project will approach quality and shows how their efforts meet the requirements of the quality policy.  There is one quality plan per project.

What is a quality audit? 

When you are verifying that key processes that should be followed are being followed you are performing a quality audit.  Deviations from the process are nonconformances and result in either adhering to the process or changing the procedure to align with the current practice.

Why is risk part of quality? 

Quality is a business approach designed to maximize profit by ensuring work is performed in alignment with standards and procedures.  If there is no risk, quality should not be involved and there should not be a standard or procedure for the work.  Focusing on higher-risk issues improves profit. 


Successful projects have a relevant project quality management plan.  The plan provides the project team with guidance as to how quality will be working to ensure quality on the project and the owner with assurance that project quality is being actively pursued. The project quality management plan should define how the quality team is structured and the processes they will be following.  It should also describe how QA, QC, quality risk, and lessons learned will be integrated into project activities.  Quality-critical processes should also be described in the plan to ensure their minimum requirements are understood by all stakeholders and quality audits are expected.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top