Grade versus Quality

July 26, 2020
Fahad Usmani
Grade vs Quality

Grade and quality are two of the most commonly used terms in project management. Not just in this field either; you will use these terms on a daily basis. For example, people frequently say that 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 that actually mean?

Does “low-grade” mean bad or undesirable and “high-grade” always mean good?

To put it simply, no. Low-grade and high-grade are not necessarily right or wrong, and that is what we are going to discuss in this blog post.

Grade and quality are fascinating concepts; however, even professionals don’t understand their differences and mistakenly use them synonymously. They are not difficult terms to understand, we simply need to pay them a bit more attention.

So, let’s discuss grade and quality in detail.

Quality

Quality is a measure of conformance to requirements and fitness for use. Customers and products themselves both have requirements.

ISO 9000 defines quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfil the requirements.”

The project manager and project management team are both responsible for the product and project’s quality

Grade

The PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, defines the word grade as “a category assigned to deliverables having the same functional use but different technical characteristics.”

Put more simply, the grade is a category assigned to the product based on its technical configuration. This means different configurations are kept in different grades.

Quality Versus Grade

There is a big difference between quality and grade. A product can be high-grade (high-end) or low-grade (low-end). A low-grade product is perfectly acceptable, as long as it fulfils requirements.

On the other hand, a low-quality product is always a problem and never acceptable. Every item produced must be of high quality regardless of its grade; no one wants a low-quality product.

A Real-World Example of Grade and Quality

Let’s say you buy a basic model (low-grade) cell phone. It doesn’t have any advanced features, but it works well. 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, it keeps you happy and satisfied.

Now, suppose you buy another, costly, premium model (high-grade) cell phone. This phone has all the advanced features: touch screen, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, camera, voice and face recognition.

But how would you feel if the product did not perform well?

  • The touch screen freezes while you are using the phone.
  • The camera does not give you good, stable pictures.
  • The voice system does not recognize you most of the time.

This is frustrating because you spent a lot of money on a high-grade product that does not perform well. Despite the price, it is of low quality and that is not acceptable.

A low-grade product is never a problem because when you buy a low-grade product, you know what you are paying for and you can expect it to perform according to its category and the price you paid. You never buy a low-grade product and expect it to perform like a high-grade one. For example, if you buy a cell phone 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 fulfil your expectations, which leaves you unsatisfied.

Please keep the following points in mind:

  • Quality is about keeping your promise that the product will perform a specific behavior, and grade is the category of the product.
  • Low-grade is not a problem and is acceptable, while low-quality is always a problem and never acceptable.
  • Low-quality does not equal low-grade, and high-quality does not mean high-grade.
  • A product or service, regardless of its grade, must be of high quality.

Significance of Grade and Quality

Grade and quality have a direct impact on the project, the deliverable, and the product life cycle.

Grade is about product scope. A high-grade product has more features, so the product will be more costly and drive up the price of the project.

Therefore, if there is a need to reduce the budget of the project, you might consider removing some of the product’s features.

Quality also affects the product life cycle cost. If the product is high-quality, although the initial cost may be higher, the overall product life cycle will be less expensive, as there will be less need for reworks and after sale support.

Summary

Quality and grade are different concepts. If you are satisfied with a product, you would say it is a high-quality product, otherwise you will say it is a low-quality product.

A 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. The quality of all products must be stated, regardless of the grade; otherwise, the manufacturer will face problems selling and the cost of after sales support will be higher. A good-quality product may initially take time and money but it gives enormous benefits, such as reduced after sale support and increased brand recognition.

I hope that now you have a clear understanding of grade and quality. If you have anything to share or any questions, you can do so in the comments section below.

This topic is important from a PMP certification exam point of view. You may see it on your PMP test.

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Speak Your Mind

  • My understanding with Grade is,
    Two different product giving the same features, but having different technical characteristics.

    Eg: High grade giving a better performance(Speed, UX), than a low grade

    “Thereby it looks not appropriate to give grade as by comparing Cell phone with camera and without camera”

  • I’m not in agreement. And I’ll explain why. If I were to get busted for possession of cocaine. I will likely be charged for the total amount that I actually possess. No Judge or DEA Agent will cut me any slack if I say: ” hey look, this is very low grade stuff. It’s only 20% pure. So why not lower my possession amount to just 20 % of what I was caught with? “. No dice. LE doesn’t care. They’re going to charge you for every molecule.

    So, in my opinion. If you’re going to take a chance of getting busted. And will more than likely be charged for the entire amount that you’re caught with. Why not strive for the highest quality?

    It’s one thing to risk jail time for an illegal substance. But it’s entirely another to risk it over substances that can be purchased at a local store. Why go to jail over sugar, baby laxative or talc powder? That makes no sense.

    Give me the very best and I will gladly pay more than the next guy.

  • The post good, I found this line in summary part and don’t agree on that.
    “A low grade product will have a few features and a high grade product will have more features”

    The low cast product will have more features to attract the customer for the features not quality wise, but the a great product will attract customer with few quality features.

    • A company may offer many models of a product on same line up. The low cost model will have low features and the high cost model will have more features. So the low grade product will have lower features than the higher grade product.

  • Effective explanation. It reminds me of the movie 3 Idiots. I mean you resound the words of Rancho about ‘padaathe kaise hai’. If only everything was as clearly explained as you have done here. Thanks Fahad.

  • Good explanation, like it.
    One point I was stuck at though
    •Low quality does not equal low grade, and high quality does mean high grade.
    How come high quality does means high grade? is that a typo?

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

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