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PMP Exam Prep Quick Hits: The Quality Gurus You Need to Know

May 01, 2018
Global Knowledge

Review the quality gurus and programs on which key PMP concepts are based

Quality, as we know it today, is an accumulation of several concepts that together create a comprehensive approach to quality. The views of quality, as described in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and tested on the PMP® exam, focus primarily on the work of three major contributors: W. Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran and Philip B. Crosby.

As a Global Knowledge PMP Exam Prep Boot Camp instructor, I continue to get feedback from students who sat for the PMP exam; often, they share their surprise at how many quality-related questions were present. Though much of the knowledge necessary to pass the PMP exam is readily documented in the PMBOK® Guide and other study guides, it can be helpful to have a primer on the quality gurus and programs on which these key concepts are based. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at these legends.

W. Edwards Deming

Many consider Deming the father of quality. His contributions to quality management have been most influential to the extent that he is considered an internationally acclaimed expert. The offerings for which he is most widely known are the Deming Cycle, his 14 Points, and the Seven Deadly Diseases.

The Deming Cycle

The Deming Cycle, also known as the PDCA Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act), was developed to link the creation of a product with consumer needs and focus the resources of all departments (research, design, production, and marketing) in a cooperative effort to meet those needs. The Deming Cycle proceeds as follows:

  1. Plan: Conduct consumer research and use it in planning the product.
  2. Do: Execute on the product plan.
  3. Check: Check the product to make sure it was delivered in accordance with the plan.
  4. Act: Market the product.
  5. Analyze: Analyze how the product is received in the marketplace in terms of quality, cost, and other criteria.

Deming’s 14 Points

Another Deming contribution, the Fourteen Points, summarized his views on what a company must do to effect a positive transition from business as usual to world-class quality. Deming’s 14 Points are as follows:

  1. Create consistency of purpose toward the improvement of products and services in order to become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. This is a new economic age; management must recognize this fact and awaken to the challenge, learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Stop depending on inspection to achieve quality. Build quality from the start.
  4. Stop rewarding contracts on the basis of low bids.
  5. Improve continuously and forever the system of production and service to increase quality and productivity, and thus constantly reduce costs.
  6. Establish on the job training.
  7. Institute leadership. The purpose of leadership should be to help the people and technology work together.
  8. Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively.
  9. Break down barriers between departments to promote teamwork.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. They create adversarial relationships.
  11. Eliminate quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.
  12. Remove barriers that rob employees of their pride of expertise.
  13. Launch a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Make the transformation and its subsequent maintenance a team effort.

Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases

Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases summarizes the factors he believes inhibit the transformation the Fourteen Points can bring about. The Seven Deadly Diseases can be summarized as:

  1. Relying on a lack of constancy of purpose to plan products and services that have a market sufficient to keep the company in business and provide jobs.
  2. Emphasizing short-term profit tied to short-term thinking driven by a fear of unfriendly takeover attempts and pressure from bankers and shareholders to produce dividends.
  3. Personalizing review systems for managers and management by objectives without providing methods or resources to accomplish objectives; this includes performance evaluations, merit rating, and annual appraisals.
  4. Facilitating job-hopping by managers.
  5. Only using visible data and information in decision making with little or no consideration given to the known or what cannot be known.
  6. Embracing the presence of excessive medical costs.
  7. Allowing lawyers, working on contingency fees, to drive up excessive liability costs.

Joseph M. Juran

Joseph M. Juran ranks close to Deming in terms of significant contributions to the quality movement. Juran has been most recognized as the person who added the human dimension to quality by broadening it from its statistical origins. He is best known for his Three Basic Steps to Progress, the Ten Steps to Quality Improvement, and the Juran Trilogy.

The Three Basic Steps to Progress

The Three Basic Steps to Progress are broad steps that Juran feels companies must take if they are to achieve world-class quality. They are as follows:

  1. Achieve structured improvements on a continual basis with dedication and a sense of urgency.
  2. Establish an extensive training program.
  3. Create commitment and leadership on the part of higher management.

Juran’s 10 Steps to Quality Improvement

In his contributions to the quality movement, Juran maintained a top-down management approach best exemplified by the 10 steps. They are as follows:

  1. Build awareness of both the needs and opportunities for improvement.
  2. Set goals for improvement.
  3. Organize to meet the goals that have been set.
  4. Provide training.
  5. Implement projects aimed at solving problems.
  6. Report progress.
  7. Give recognition.
  8. Communicate results.
  9. Keep score.
  10. Maintain momentum by building improvement into the company’s regular systems.

The Juran Trilogy

The Juran Trilogy summarizes the three primary functions of managers: quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Each primary function has several steps:

  1. Quality planning
    • Determine who the customers are.
    • Identify customer needs.
    • Develop products with features that respond to customer needs.
    • Establish systems and processes that allow the organization to produce these features.
    • Deploy the plans to operational levels.
  2. Quality control
    • Assess actual quality performance.
    • Compare performance with goals.
    • Act on differences between performance and goals.
  3. Quality improvement
    • Identify specific areas in need of improvement, and execute improvement projects.
    • Establish a project team with responsibility for completing each improvement project.
    • Provide teams with what they need to be able to diagnose problems to determine root causes, develop solutions, and establish controls that will maintain gains made.


Philip B. Crosby

Crosby simply defines quality as “conformance.” He’s known best for his advocacy of Zero Defects management and prevention as opposed to a statistically acceptable level of quality. He is also known for his Quality “Vaccine” and his 14 Steps to Quality Improvement.

Crosby’s Quality “Vaccine”

Crosby’s Quality “Vaccine” consists of three ingredients:

  1. Determination: Understand the necessity of quality to a company’s ability to both survive and thrive.
  2. Education: Ensure all employees know their personal responsibilities regarding quality improvement.
  3. Implementation: Communicate logically and openly to facilitate application of good quality practices.


Crosby’s 14 Steps to Quality Improvement

Building on the Quality Vaccine, Crosby created 14 steps to insure the successful implementation of quality management. These steps are:

  1. Make it clear that management is committed to quality for the long term.
  2. Form cross-departmental quality teams.
  3. Identify where current and potential problems exist.
  4. Assess the cost of quality and explain how it is used as a management tool.
  5. Increase the quality awareness and personal commitment of all employees.
  6. Take immediate action to correct problems identified.
  7. Establish a Zero Defects program.
  8. Train supervisors to carry out their responsibilities in the quality program.
  9. Hold a Zero Defects Day to ensure all employees are aware there is a new direction.
  10. Encourage individuals and teams to establish both personal and team improvements.
  11. Encourage employees to tell management about obstacles they face in trying to meet quality goals.
  12. Recognize employees who participate.
  13. Implement quality controls to promote continual communication.
  14. Repeat everything to illustrate that quality improvement is a never-ending process.

Other Quality Concepts

ISO 9000

ISO 9000 is an international quality standard for goods and services. ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization, which is a federation of standards bodies from nations around the world. ISO does not set specifications for quality but rather sets broad requirements for quality assurance and managerial involvement. As ISO has evolved over the years, it has become more closely aligned with the Total Quality Management (TQM) philosophy; however, it is not all encompassing.

ISO is composed of three standards:

  1. ISO 9000: 2000 Quality management systems - Fundamentals and vocabulary
  2. ISO 9001: 2000 Quality management systems - Requirements
  3. ISO 9004: 2000 Quality management systems - Guidelines for performance improvements

Six Sigma

The Six Sigma name comes from the concept of standard deviation: a statistically derived value represented by the lowercase Greek letter sigma, ó. The variations of processes and their output products are typically measured in the number of standard deviations from the mean. A good company typically operates between three and four sigma.

The central core of the Six Sigma concept is a six-step protocol for process improvement. These steps are as follows:

1. Identify the product characteristics wanted by the customer.
2. Classify the characteristics in terms of their criticality.
3. Determine if the classified characteristics are controlled by part and/or process.
4. Resolve the maximum allowable tolerance for each classified characteristic.
5. Identify the process variation for each classified characteristic.
6. Change the design of the product, process, or both, to achieve Six Sigma process performance.


The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University developed the Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM), also known as the SW-CMM, to serve as a model for organizations to identify best practices useful in helping them increase the maturity of their processes.

The maturity levels that organizations seek range from 0, where the organization has incomplete processes and tasks are not repeatable, to a maturity level of 5, where organizations are optimizing their current processes and continuously seeking improvement. There are six capability levels:

0. Incomplete
1. Performed
2. Managed
3. Defined
4. Quantitatively managed
5. Optimizing

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)

CPI is a concept that recognizes that the world is constantly changing and any process that is satisfactory today may not provide the same value tomorrow. CPI is a holistic approach that is applicable to projects because it supports quality goals by making gradual improvements in processes and sub-processes that tend to repeat themselves over several projects, or often within a project. The CPI procedure is as follows:

  1. Define and standardize (sub)processes: Document current understanding; maintain and update formal standards; measure performance against current standards.
  2. Assess (sub)process performance: Measure process; assess performance against goals and customer needs; select improvement targets.
  3. Improve (sub)processes: Use teams for shared processes; pursue individual improvement; follow improvement cycle (similar to Deming’s PDCA cycle) of
    • Standardize
    • Do
    • Check
    • Act
  4. Measure progress: Measure performance against goals and standards; evaluate customer satisfaction, evaluate method and document results; continuously improve.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

TQM consists of continuous improvement activities involving everyone in the organization, from managers to practitioners, in a totally integrated effort toward improving performance at every level. This enriched performance is directed toward satisfying such cross-functional goals as quality, cost, schedule, mission need, and suitability. TQM integrates fundamental management techniques, existing enhancement efforts, and technical tools under a disciplined approach focused on continued process improvement. The activities are ultimately focused on increased customer and user satisfaction.

About the Author

Samuel T. Brown, III, PMP, is a course developer and instructor for Global Knowledge with twenty-five years of experience teaching. In addition, he has provided project management consulting services for a variety of clients including GE, Glaxo Smith-Klein, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Michelin Tire and IBM.

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