In your normal life you have been using terms such as: this is a low grade product, this is a high grade product, this is a low quality product, or this is a high quality product.
What does this really mean?
Does “low” always mean bad or not desirable?
Not only in project management but also in your real life you will encounter these terms on a daily basis.
These are very interesting concepts; however many times people don’t understand the difference between them. It is not because this concept is difficult to understand, but because they ignore it and never pay attention to the details.
Anyway, let’s discuss these concepts in detail.
Quality is conformance to the requirement, and fitness for use. Requirements includes product’s and customer’s requirements.
ISO 9000 defines quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills the requirements.”
Please note that, for your project, you and your team are both responsible for the quality of the product.
The PMBOK Guide 5th edition defines the grade as “the category assigned to products or services having the same functional use but different technical characteristics.”
If you read the definition of grade carefully you will see that it is trying to convey that grade is a category assigned to the product based on its technical configuration. This means products with different configuration are kept in different grades.
The definition of quality says that it is degree to which a product fulfills the requirements, and grade is the item’s classification based on its technical characteristics.
There is a big difference between the quality and grade. A product can be a high grade (high-end) or a low grade (low-end), it is perfectly acceptable and there is no problem with it as long as it fulfills its stated requirements.
On the other hand, a low quality product is never acceptable and it is always a problem. Every product must be of high quality regardless of its grade. A low quality product is never desired.
Let’s say you buy a low cost, basic model (low grade) cellphone for yourself. It doesn’t have any advanced features, but it works. It never gives you any trouble, always works flawlessly and it is defect free — No problem at all.
So, you can say that this is a high quality product. Although, it is a low grade product, it keeps you happy and satisfied at all times.
Now suppose you buy another costly premium model (high grade) cellphone. This cellphone has all the advanced features: e.g. touch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera, voice recognition, face recognition, etc.
But how would you feel if the product is not performing well? I mean:
- The touch screen froze while you are navigating the phone.
- The camera is not giving you good quality and stable pictures.
- The voice recognition system does not recognize you most of the time.
Obviously, you will be frustrated because you bought a high grade product but it does not perform as it should. This means the quality of this cellphone is poor, and that is not acceptable.
A low grade is never a problem, because when you buy a low grade product, you know that you are paying for a low-grade product and expect the features as per its category. You never buy a low grade product and expect it to perform like a high grade one. For example, if you buy a cellphone with no camera feature, you will not expect it to take a photo.
However, a low quality product is always a problem because it does not fulfill your expectations and keeps you unsatisfied.
Keep the following points in your mind:
- Low quality does not equal to low grade, and high quality does not mean high grade.
- Low grade is not a problem and it is acceptable, while a low quality product is always a problem and is never acceptable.
- A product or service, regardless of its grade, must be of high quality.
- Quality is about keeping your promise that the product will perform with a certain behavior, and grade is a category of the product.
Quality and grade are different from each other. Quality is conformance to the requirements. If you are satisfied with a product you would say that this is a high quality product, and if you are not satisfied with it, you would say that this is a bad quality product. Grade is a categorization of the product based on its characteristics. A low grade product will have a few features and a high grade product will have more features. The quality of all products must be as stated, regardless of the grade, otherwise the manufacturer will face problems with selling the product and the cost of after sale support will be higher as well. A good quality product may take time and money initially but it gives you huge benefits, such as reduced after sale support and an increase in brand recognition.
Here is where this blog post on quality and grade ends. I hope that now you have a clear understanding about grade and quality.
This topic is important from a PMP certification exam point of view. You may see some questions on this topic on your PMP test.