The PRINCE2 Quality Practice 

 March 20, 2024

By  Dave Litten

The PRINCE2 Quality Practice

The purpose of the PRINCE2 quality practice is to document the user’s requirements of the project products and to establish the means by which they will be met.

Quality is concerned with ensuring that the project products meet the user’s requirements and expectations and realize the desired benefits. 

The quality practice addresses the quality concepts, guidance, techniques, management products, and responsibilities for the project products.

Definition: quality

The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of a product, service, process, person, organization, system, or resource fulfils its requirements.

The PRINCE2 method includes systematic activities to:

  • Explicitly confirm the user’s quality expectations and acceptance criteria for the project products in the project product description
  • identify the project products to the level at which the project can exert control
  • define the project products in product descriptions, including the quality specifications by which they will be assessed, the quality techniques to be used in checking their quality, and the quality responsibilities of those involved
  • implement and track the quality techniques employed throughout the project.

Quality should be built into everything, not just tested at the end of the project.

Key quality terminology

PRINCE2 uses a specific set of terms to characterize information about the needs of project stakeholders and enable effective quality planning, quality control, and quality assurance.

These terms are:

  • user’s quality expectations
  • requirements
  • acceptance criteria
  • quality specifications

user’s quality expectations

A statement about the quality expected from the project product, captured in the project product description.

All project stakeholders have expectations of how the project will be performed and of the products it will deliver.  However, in PRINCE2, the term user’s quality expectations only applies to the statements found in the project product description.

A requirement

A need or expectation that is documented in an approved management product.

Similarly, the PRINCE2 method distinguishes between needs and expectations captured in an approved management product (such as a product description) and those not. 

Captured and documented needs or expectations are considered requirements, which constitute part of the project scope. Needs and expectations not captured in an approved management product are outside the project scope. This distinction is essential to enable effective monitoring and control.

acceptance criteria

The project product must meet a prioritized list of criteria before the user accepts it. For example, measurable definitions of the attributes required for the set of products to be acceptable to key stakeholders.

Acceptance criteria are stated in the project product description. In effect, they are owned by the business, and the project board approves these on behalf of the business. 

Acceptance criteria are typically described in terms of the functional capabilities the business expects to achieve upon accepting the project products.

quality specifications

A description of the quality measures that will be applied by those performing quality control and the levels that a finished product must meet.

Quality specifications are stated in product descriptions. These are typically derived from the user’s quality expectations and determined by business or operational context aspects.

Operational context could include applicable regulatory requirements or requirements driven by existing policies and practices.

Product-based quality

The principle of focusing on products is central to the PRINCE2 approach to quality. PRINCE2 uses the term requirements to describe the expectations, needs, and desires of a project’s stakeholders for the project products, outcomes, and benefits. 

No project can ever satisfy all requirements. This is why requirements must be prioritized and agreed in a controlled manner.

PRINCE2 provides a product-based approach to requirements that aims to translate requirements into acceptance criteria and quality specifications for project products and the activities to deliver them. 

This helps avoid expending resources on work that cannot be traced back to the project’s business justification.

The product-based quality management approach ensures clear traceability of quality specifications and quality controls to the required products, thereby avoiding conflicts over unmet user quality expectations.

The larger the scope and duration of a project, the larger (and more dynamic) the requirements the project manager will need to handle. 

No matter how thoroughly and accurately stakeholder requirements have been captured in product descriptions in the process of initiating a project, the project management team should anticipate requirements changes and be prepared to handle them. 

Requirements management is an ongoing activity that constitutes the first part of the product-based quality management approach.

Correcting quality issues and flaws early in the project lifecycle is easier and cheaper than when the finished product is being tested or, worse when the product is already in operational use.

The prevention of such issues is achieved through quality planning, which reduces the resources and risks involved in quality control.

Guidance for effective quality management

Quality management focuses on three elements: quality planning, quality control, and quality assurance. 

Quality planning involves:

  •  identifying the significant products of the project and documenting them in terms of user’s quality expectations and acceptance criteria in the project product description
  • eliciting user requirements and detailing them in terms of quality specifications in product descriptions
  • developing the quality management approach to ensure the associated quality specifications and acceptance criteria are met
  • obtaining the project board’s approval for the above as a baseline for subsequent

Quality management and control

Quality control involves:

  • implementing the agreed quality management approach during delivery
  • assessing issues related to quality and raising quality exceptions when necessary
  • obtaining acceptance of the delivered products.

Quality assurance involves:

  • ensuring that the quality planning and control techniques are sufficient to confirm that the quality requirements can be met.

Dave Litten

Dave spent 25+ years as a senior project manager for UK and USA multinationals and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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