Quality management and control involves monitoring the project and its progress to determine if the quality standards are being implemented.
The entire organization has responsibilities relating to quality, but the primary responsibility for ensuring that the project follows its defined quality procedures ultimately belongs to the PM.
Poor quality results in increased costs, low morale, low customer satisfaction and increased project risk. High quality results in lower costs, engaged and productive Project Teams, high customer satisfaction and lower risk.
For more complex system and software development projects, you should try to implement a Capability Maturity Model Integration Level 3. This is characterized by having a set of defined and documented standard processes established and subject to some degree of improvement over time. Basically, you should define the processes to be used to control, audit and measure the quality of the work and the resulting work products.
Specify the use of quality control processes such as quality assurance of conformance to work processes, verification and validation, joint reviews, audits and process assessment. Also, clarify who will be responsible for reviewing compliance with each of these quality requirements.
Your Quality Director can help you identify the appropriate quality elements to implement for the scale and complexity of your project.
The Corporate Quality Control Manager will implement this Plan using a systematic, step-by-step approach to ensure that the quality of services performed meets and/or exceeds contract requirements regarding timeliness, accuracy, appearance, completeness, consistency, and conformity to appropriate standards and/or specifications. The following subparagraphs explain the processes and procedures that we will follow to assure that the performance objectives are met and/or exceeded.
Inspection Methods to be Used
We use a variety of inspection methods to identify problems in the Quality of Service we are providing under this contract. They will include, but not be limited to:
- Personal evaluations
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) specifically tailored to this location and the type of services we are providing
- Checklist developed for each task group and location of such task group
- Review of QAP reports
- Review of Customer Complaints
- Scheduled and unscheduled QC inspections of each functional and task area
- On-site inspection by Corporate managers, scheduled and unannounced
Your company’s primary method of identifying deficiencies in the quality of services to be performed before the level of performance becomes unacceptable as defined in the Service Delivery Summary relies on a multi-tier/multi-level inspection process. This method incorporates the Total Quality Management concept known as Total Employee Involvement (TEI). TEI is simple in both theory and practice. Applied to inspections, TEI has two separate and distinct elements. The first element is actively involving all project employees in inspecting service input and output. The second element involves empowering and continually motivating employees to perform inspections of in-progress and completed work. The chart below provides a brief description of each employee’s role in the multi-tier/multi-level inspection process. Applied to general project management, TEI sparks the talents, knowledge, and creativity within employees and motivates them to perform to the best of their ability. It ensures the completed work is of high quality. The roles and responsibilities for TEI are defined below:
Inspections will be performed by the Quality Control Specialist on a weekly basis. Individual employees will review their work daily to assure compliance with contract requirements. Your company’s Corporate Quality Control Manager will perform quarterly quality reviews in addition to reviewing and participating in the resolution of cited deficiencies when they occur. The Corporate Quality Control Manager will also conduct unannounced quality reviews throughout the contract period of performance.
As can be concluded, the benefit of this multi-tier/multi-level inspection process is that it results in over-inspection/over-sampling. The results of over sampling combined with proper quality training make it exceedingly more likely that a potential defect is identified and corrected well before it is identified by the customers as a deficiency or a threat of a reduction in performance standards/levels.
Once a defect is identified, the Corporate Quality Control Manager is to be notified immediately. Any and all issues will be addressed immediately, thoroughly reviewed and corrected. This corrective process focuses on two steps: 1.) Root Cause Analysis and 2.) Process Control/Continuous Process Improvement. Both proactive steps eliminate reliance/dependence upon Government or customer identification and direction for correction of deficiencies prior to resolving the defect. It is important to note that to close out the loop of this cycle, both Government and customer input/feedback will be solicited before implementing the Process Control/Performance Improvement measure(s).
Root Cause Analysis
After a defect has been identified through inspections, our QC management team will perform a “Root Cause Analysis.” This analysis simply means that the defect will be analyzed to identify the underlying procedural or systemic cause of the defect. To fully ensure identification, our QC management team will employ a routine, systematic approach to problem elimination. In other words, the team will eliminate non-contributing causes/factors and methodically narrow it down so that the contributing cause/factor can be definitively identified.
Process Control/Continuous Process Improvement
Once the root cause of the problem has been identified, focus is then immediately shifted to developing process control/performance improvement measure(s) that concentrate on preventing reoccurrence and thus continually improving services. The benefit of these measures is that they optimize the process and procedure by eliminating “weak link(s)” in the process or procedure. Your company’s approach to effecting preventive and corrective actions so that they are suitable to the deficiency relies on developing a tailored/customized/case-by-case response to the problem. Examples include:
- Revised Standard Operative Procedures (SOP’s)/Work Instructions
- Additional Training of Project Personnel
Once the final process control/performance improvement measure has been selected and implemented we review the area that was previously deficient to test whether the corrective action implemented will ensure that a defect will not be repeated. This review is continued until the process has fully matured.
Your company might routinely performs trend analysis as part of its QC Program. Trend analysis to be an efficient and effective tool in defect prevention. Trend analysis concentrates on identifying trends in the performance of contract work by reviewing previously compiled quality data (e.g., inspection results). Emphasis is placed on identifying both negative and positive trends/shifts impacting contract performance. It also looks at trend “forecasting” versus simple identification of current or past trends. Once these trends are identified, the Project Manager usually has the authority to order the appropriate action. The nature of the action is tailored/customized to the trend(s) identified. Specifically, positive trends are recognized and acknowledged, whereas negative trends are corrected at the procedural/systematic level to eliminate reoccurrence. The corrective action taken has the goal of achieving a level of performance at or above contract requirements. This approach helps ensure the continuity and consistency of high-quality services. Once the appropriate action has been taken, the trend(s) will continue to be monitored for adherence to or exceeding of contract requirements and to monitor contract performance.
Recording and Processing Customer Complaints
While the objective is to achieve a “Zero Defects” posture, companies also recognize that complaints sometimes occur. The Quality Control Specialist (QCS) (or, on smaller projects, the PM) receives and documents all incoming complaints. The Quality Control Specialist evaluates the complaint and either resolves it or relays it to the Project Manager for resolution. In those cases that are a result of poor workmanship, the QCS reviews the work, discusses the discrepancies with the affected employee, and implements corrective action. The QCS ensures that the complaint is recorded and processed in accordance with contract requirements and the Quality Control Plan.
All Quality Control records concerning the performance of this contract should be maintained in the QCS’s office. These files contain inspection reports, records, discrepancies, corrective actions, copies of all incoming and completed customer complaints, etc. These records need to be available for Government review at any time upon request.
Valid customer complaints are one method by which deficiencies are identified by individuals other than your Quality Control staff and the Government Representatives. Where there is a case of poor performance, non-performance, or a dis-satisfied customer, thoroughly investigate the report, and if valid, document the report and take corrective action.
Each complaint is evaluated as to whether or not the service was required and the standard was not met. The following action is then taken:
- Corrective action that includes correcting the deficiency along with the actions taken or to be taken to prevent a recurrence. The corrective action will address both short-term remedial actions and long-term solutions.
- Corrective actions apply to both contractor-discovered deficiencies (as a result of your Quality Control Program) and Government surfaced deficiencies that result in documented notification and requests for corrective action. These corrective actions should be in accordance with the reporting and documentation requirements deemed necessary by the Government.
- Through the use of the Customer Complaint Program, as well as other internal measures of Quality Control, such as employee input, scheduled and unscheduled inspections, you should be able to create an environment that will be able to not only correct current deficiencies, but will be able to identify and resolve any and all potential areas of concern prior to a deficiency becoming a reality.
In the event that a deficiency, either actual or potential, should arise which would have either a direct or indirect impact on the Government, the Project Manager should immediately notify the Government Representatives of the situation, the circumstances surrounding the situation, the potential impact and possible solutions.
– Mike Lisagor