Step 14: Establish the quality assurance & control baseline

Standardization has become one of the best ways to ensure a greater level of quality throughout all areas of management.

Note: See the end of this section for a QASP template.

This includes processes all the way through to the management of projects. So, many companies manage projects using quality control procedures that are consistent with ISO 9001-2008 quality series standards and CMMI Level 3, two of the most demanding and detailed quality management standards in the world.

ISO Standards are therefore a vital tool in the project manager’s toolbox, ensuring a better level of project success through universal systems that are designed to set clear guidelines for projects, from design all the way through to implementation and review. Check to see if your company complies with the general guidelines of ISO9001 as illustrated in the following figure.


At the other end of the spectrum, your company may have successfully managed smaller services programs for years on end with a less formal concept of quality management.  However, as a principle, every your company project should be managed with an appropriate and tailored application of quality management approaches and methodologies, and with a commitment to and understanding that continual improvement in project performance through proactive monitoring, measurement and correction is the standard approach at Your company.

Summary of ISO 9001:2008 Quality Requirements

The quality policy is a formal statement from management, closely linked to the business and marketing plan and to customer needs.

The quality policy is understood and followed at all levels and by all employees. Each employee works towards measurable objectives.

The business makes decisions about the quality system based on recorded data.

The quality system is regularly audited and evaluated for conformance and effectiveness.

Records show how and where raw materials and products were processed to allow products and problems to be traced to the source.

The business determines customer requirements.

The business has created systems for communicating with customers about product information, inquiries, contracts, orders, feedback, and complaints.

When developing new products, the business plans the stages of development, with appropriate testing at each stage. It tests and documents whether the product meets design requirements, regulatory requirements, and user needs.

The business regularly reviews performance through internal audits and meetings. The business determines whether the quality system is working and what improvements can be made. It has a documented procedure for internal audits.

The business deals with past problems and potential problems. It keeps records of these activities and the resulting decisions, and monitors their effectiveness.

The business has documented procedures for dealing with actual and potential non-conformances (problems involving suppliers, customers, or internal problems).

The business:

  • Makes sure no one uses a bad product,
  • Determines what to do with a bad product,
  • Deals with the root cause of problems, and
  • Keeps records to use as a tool to improve the system.

As part of the project planning process, you should prepare a Quality Assurance Management plan to regularly evaluate overall performance via the identification and definition of both quantitative and qualitative quality indicators which, if properly applied, will provide confidence that the end product will meet the customers’ needs and expectations.  The quality assurance plan can be a stand-alone document, or, in some cases, a section of the PM Plan.

In general, the government’s quality assurance requirements are that:

  • The contractor shall have a QA system that is approved by the Government or customer.
  • The contractor shall use this QA system on any products produced and sold to the Government or customer.
  • The contractor shall have objective proof that the product meets all of its product requirements.
  • The contractor shall assure that subcontractors also meet the above requirements.

Your company Quality Director can help you identify the appropriate quality elements to implement for the scale and complexity of your project.

The Quality Control Program will enable the Project Manager to accomplish all of the following:

  • Ensure a “PRO-ACTIVE” Quality Control Program rather than a “RE-ACTIVE” Program.
  • Provide continuous high quality services.
  • Provide documented inspection results for the prompt identification of deficiencies.
  • Ensure timely response in resolving deficiencies (corrective action).
  • Immediately identify probable sources and trends when deficiencies are discovered.
  • Perform trend analysis.
  • Assist corporate management in the decision making process.
  • Maintaining quality control files and reports.

Quality control should be emphasized to the lowest possible level in the organization.  Each employee on the job is ultimately responsible for the quality of his or her work.  The Project Manager, QC Representative and Work Group Leaders, etc., all share in the overall responsibility to ensure high quality.

Roles and Responsibilities

Your company Corporate Quality Control Manager (CQCM) is responsible for Your company’s QC Program.  In turn, the QC Manager has assigned specific responsibilities to certain individuals within the Quality Control chain in the Company.  It is incumbent on the specified individual or position to ensure that all the designated responsibilities are completed and adhered to at all times.  The following QC positions, along with respective responsibilities, form the QC organization for your company. The QC Manager must approve any reassignment of the responsibilities listed below.

The QC Manager has the following responsibilities:

  • Establish, implement, monitor and maintain the QC program.
  • Review and approve revisions made to the QC Program.
  • Review program adherence and inspect delivery of contracted services.

The Quality Control Specialist, or alternate, is responsible for the following:

  • Responsible for updating checklists to be contract specific.
  • Coordinate with the Contracting Officer or the COTR.
  • Assigning individuals to be responsible for the actual inspection and corresponding remarks.
  • Making revisions to the final checklist.
  • Performing on-site QC inspections.
  • Providing corrective action to all discrepancies.
  • Establish frequencies for performing inspections.
  • Providing a copy of all inspection reports and corrective actions to the Corporate Quality Control Manager.
  • Implementing a Pro-Active Quality Control Program.
  • Providing employee training on the processes and procedures of the quality control program through on-the-job training and staff meetings.
  • Empowering employees to be proactive by involving each and every employee in the process.

Individual Responsibilities

  • Each employee double-checks his/her work to ensure high quality and compliance with contract requirements.
  • The Work Group Leaders check all completed work for accuracy, timeliness, completeness and overall quality.
  • The Project Manager and/or Quality Control Specialist perform daily checks of all areas using checklists, periodic inspection and direct observation.
  • These checks are documented and maintained on-site for review.

Quality Assurnace Surveillance Plan

In many RFPs, the government asks the contractor to submit a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) along with their propsoal. This ensures systematic quality assurance methods are used in the administration of a performance base task order. The intent is to make certain that the contractor performs in accordance with the performance metrics and the Government receives the quality of services called for in the order.

Here is a Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan Template (Word Document).

– Mike Lisagor


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