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Friday, July 1, 2011

Chapter 60:Performing Quality Assurance

One of the integral parts of project execution is Quality Assurance. In one of the previous chapters, we planned to manage the project quality. In this chapter, we are going to put that knowledge into effective use.

So, lets get started!!!

Quality Assurance

Quality planning, is used to identify which quality standards are relevant to the project at hand and to determine how to meet these standards. Implementing quality management consists of the following two components:
Quality assurance (QA) - Quality assurance is the process of auditing the results from quality control measurements to ensure that the quality requirements are being met. This process is used during the execution of the project.
Quality control - This refers to monitoring and controlling the project results to ensure they meet the agreed-upon quality standards.

Performing organizations typically have a department called quality assurance (QA) that oversees the quality assurance activities and fosters continuous process improvement, which is an iterative method for improving the quality of all processes.

The picture below explains the Perform Quality Assurance Process.


Inputs to Performing Quality Assurance

The inputs to the quality assurance process are:
Output from quality planning - The following output items from the quality planning process become the input to the quality assurance process:
Quality management plan - This plan is the output of the quality planning process, and it describes how QA will be performed for this project.
Quality metrics - A quality metric is an operational criterion that defines in specific terms what something (such as a characteristic or a feature) is and how the quality control process measures it. The quality metrics developed during quality planning, such as defect density, failure rates, reliability, and test coverage, must be employed during QA.
Process improvement plan - The process improvement plan, helps improve the quality of the project and must be implemented during QA.

Output from directing and managing project execution: work performance information.

When you are directing and managing project execution, information about work performance and the implementation of a few items will help you determine how the quality is being implemented. Therefore, during QA, you must consider work performance information. Work performance information includes project status information that is regularly collected and distributed among the stakeholders. It includes the following items:
• Schedule progress information
o Schedule activities that have been finished and those that have started
o Estimates for the completion of schedule activities that have started and hence are in progress
o Percentages to show the portion of each in-progress activity; for ex: Activity A is 50% done
o Deliverables that have been completed and those that have not yet been completed
• Incurred cost as compared to authorized cost
• Resource utilization details
• How well the quality standards are being met
• Lessons learned added to the knowledge base

When you are directing and managing project execution, obviously the items are being implemented. The following quality-related implemented items must be considered during QA:
• Implemented change requests
• Implemented corrective actions
• Implemented defect repair
• Implemented preventive actions

Output from quality control: quality control measurements - Quality control involves monitoring specific project results to verify whether they meet quality standards. The quality control process sends its results back to QA as feedback.

Approved change requests - Approved change requests, such as modification of work methods, product requirements, quality requirements, scope, and schedule, must be analyzed for their effect on the quality management plan and quality metrics.

Trivia: All approved changes should be formally documented. Unapproved and undocumented changes (for example, changes just verbally discussed) must neither be processed nor be implemented. Its easy to give-in & accept a verbal request made by a customer. Nonetheless, we must document it to ensure that the efforts we spend on that task are captured and we don't overspend our resources on non-scheduled tasks.

Tools and Techniques for Performing Quality Assurance

The following tools & techniques can be used for performing QA activities.
Quality audits - A quality audit is a structured and independent review to determine whether project activities comply with the policies, processes, and procedures of the project and the performing organization. It verifies the implementation of approved change requests, corrective actions, defect repairs, and preventive actions. Audits can occur as scheduled or at random and can be conducted by a third party or by properly trained in-house auditors of the performing organization. The main objectives of quality audits are:
• Identify all good practices
• Identify shortcomings and gaps in implementing what was planned
• Offer assistance for improvement and share knowledge gathered from the implementation of good practices at similar projects
• Record contributions from each audit in the lessons learned database of the project
These audits accomplish the following objectives:
• Because one of the objectives of a quality audit is to identify inefficient and ineffective policies, processes, and procedures being used for the project, audits reduce the cost of quality on subsequent projects.
• Audits increase customer satisfaction and acceptance of the product or service delivered by the project.

Process analysis - This is a technique used to identify the needed improvements in a process by following the steps outlined in the process improvement plan. It examines the problems, constraints, and unnecessary activities identified during the implementation of the process. Process analysis typically includes:
1. Identify a technique to analyze the problem.
2. Identify the underlying causes that led to the problem.
3. Examine the root cause of the problem.
4. Create preventive actions for this and similar problems.
Other tools and techniques - The tools and techniques used in the following processes can also be used in the QA process:
• Quality planning
• Quality control

Output of Performing Quality Assurance

The main outputs of performing quality assurance process are:
Change requests - The goal of quality assurance is improving quality, which involves taking actions to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the policies, procedures, and processes of the performing organization. One way of accomplishing this is to implement the quality related changes recommended and approved during the process of directing and managing the project execution, including:
• Modifications to policies and procedures.
• Modifications to project scope, cost, and schedule.
• Recommended corrective actions. Implementation of recommended corrective actions will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the policies, processes, and procedures of the performing organization and will also improve the quality of the product or service delivered by the project. Following are examples of the types of recommended actions:
o Audits
o Process analysis that itself might produce a list of preventive actions
o Defect repair, such as bug fixes in a software program

Updates - As a result of the QA process, you might need to add updates to the following:
Organizational process assets - The quality standards, policies, procedures, and processes of the performing organization are the organizational assets that can be updated during the QA process.
Project management plan - The quality assurance process can result in updates to the project management plan in the following ways:
o Changes to the quality management plan, which is a part of the project management plan.
o Quality audits may cause changes to the schedule management plan and cost management plan.
• Other documents - Other project documents that may be modified as a result of QA include process documentation, quality audit reports, and training plans.

Prev: Directing & Managing Project Execution

Next: Conducting Procurements

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