What is the Difference between Project Management and Quality Management?

Project Management and Quality Management

In your day-to-day conversations, and especially if you are into a manufacturing business, you must have come across the terms project management and quality management. Both the terms are intriguing in their own way, given their history as well as the significance in the context of modern businesses.

The term project management, though in usage for just about a century now, goes back a thousand of years, with the great ancient projects such as the Giza Pyramid or the Hanging Gardens, and the Colosseum of Roman Empire being fine examples of massive projects being managed successfully.

Quality management, on the other hand, is a more recent, modern phenomenon, but has forever been important. Since the time immemorial, emphasis has always been laid on quality. Even the greatest ancient projects we just spoke about are prime examples of quality work.

The modern context

In the contemporary business world, different organizations — manufacturing ones or otherwise — manage large projects. And at the core of every project they undertake is the objective of delivering quality to the end consumer. The organizations strive to ensure that their products and services embody quality.

Now, coming to the topic of this blog- “what is the difference between project management and quality management,” it is essential to first understand what the terms quality and project mean in isolation, and then proceed towards the difference between project management and quality management, if any.

A better understanding of the two concepts can help us understand how the two are actually different, where their scopes actually meet, is it about project management vs quality management, and whether or not the two are inter-dependent. So let’s get on with it by first understanding the concepts of project, quality, project management, and quality management.

Project and Project Management

A project can be defined as a temporary activity that has a beginning and an end attached to it, undertaken with the objective of producing unique physical products or services. So, a project is a venture that has a defined purpose, budget, and time frame, to bring about beneficial change or added value.

Examples of a project can be the development of a new product or service, a change in the structure of an organization, implementing a new business process, or even implementing a new IT-system. It is worth remembering here that quality is always at the core of any project.

Project management is a series of activities grouped together that ensure that it meets its specific goals, within the stipulated time. It is a one-off event, which typically gets initiated when the project begins, and comes to an end when the project gets finished.

The activities that we mentioned here include detailed planning, monitoring, executing, controlling, and closing the project. The planning phase of the project involves the description of the work requirements, of the quantity and quality of work, of the resources required resources, and the deliverables. All of quality assurance, quality control, and quality management fall under its purview.

Quality and Quality Management

Quality, on the other hand, is a measure of goodness to understand how a product or service meets its specifications. It is a subjective topic, understood differently by different people, and usually its judge is the end beneficiary/customer, who expects it as a lasting experience. Every product, service, process, project, action, and even decision taken by an organization can be judged on its terms.

Quality management, unlike project management, is not a one-off event. It is in fact a continuous process practiced by organizations to ensure they deliver consistently high quality products and services all the time. It refers to developing and following policies, tests, corrective processes, etc. to ensure the organizational efforts deliver the intended results on the quality front from the customer’s perspective.

Some examples of objectives of quality management include fitness of the product/service for use, compliance with the requirements, conformance/zero defects, performance, reliability, and durability.

Link between Project Management and Quality Management

Both project management and quality management are distinct disciplines and bodies of knowledge. However, the term ‘temporary’ has long been associated with project management; something which we discussed briefly earlier in this blog. The term ‘permanent’, on the other hand, has been associated with quality management, where repetitive processes dominate

However, the two concepts have converged in recent times, with project management maturing towards the management of permanent organizations. For organizations that are more of project-based, project management becomes an ongoing, repetitive operation, of which quality management is a big part.

More and more organizations of late have started opting for project management as a means to achieve their strategic quality objectives. These organizations are adopting project management as a part of their standard management practices, and this change of guard has more to do with the modern-day business philosophy of bringing value to customers through projects.

With organizations increasingly gaining more project management maturity, the focus is fast shifting towards making continuous improvements to project management as a new avenue towards achieving improved quality. In other words, using quality management in project management is essential for the continued success of the projects as well as organizations.

Quality Management- a subset of Project Management

In the contemporary business scenario, project management and quality management have become complementary to each other. They both stand on the edifice of customer satisfaction, and that quality leads to customer satisfaction. In a way, with the organizations increasingly becoming project-centric, quality management has emerged as a subset of project management.

The principles and practices of quality management are applied to ensure that quality is managed and maintained throughout a project with great consistency. So, it is not about project management vs quality management, it is about understanding the two concepts, and having the best of both worlds by leveraging the two to the organization’s advantage.

We hope by breaking it down and discussing the parts separately, we could help you draw a larger picture and understand the difference between project management and quality management. If you have any query, you may write to us. Our in-house quality experts at QualityMaster would be happy to help you with all the information on project management and quality management for your business!


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