8.2 Perform Quality Assurance Process

The Perform Quality Assurance process executes the quality management plan and the process improvement plan, and by doing so ensures that the project's quality processes are aligned with the plans.

The premise behind quality assurance is that if the quality of the project processes is improved then the quality of the deliverables will be subsequently improved.

The performing organization and project team reap the benefits gained by process improvements and the customer benefits through lower-costs and deliverables more likely to meet its need.

Thus quality assurance is focused on the processes and not the quality of the deliverables.

This is important for us to remember: quality assurance is concerned with quality processes while quality control is concerned with quality deliverables.

Another way for us to remember this is that Perform Quality Assurance is an executing process while Perform Quality Control is a monitoring and control process.

Since QA relies on the quality management plan, its activities can't begin until the quality planning processes are well underway.

Quality assurance activities are performed by the project management team, but in organizations with an established quality policy, QA activities may be overseen by personnel from another business unit that’s responsible for the organization’s quality policy.

Work performance information and quality control measurements are used in the quality assurance process to look for prevention and process improvements opportunities.

Any process changes or process improvements uncovered by QA activities will result in change requests or requested corrective actions, which if approved might result in updates to the quality management plan, process improvement plan, and to the project quality baseline.

Perform Quality Assurance Process Decomposition

Perform Quality Assurance Process Decomposition

Perform Quality Assurance Process: inputs

  • Project management plan
    The quality management plan and the process improvement plan are key to quality assurance.
  • Quality metrics
    Quality metrics are the specific quality goals the project must meet and how the quality control processes will confirm compliance.
    Quality metrics can include any type of applicable measurement, including defect rates, bug rates, failure rates, uptime, reliability, and coverage area.
  • Work performance information
    Work performance information is any data that can be considered related to the work which produces the project deliverables.
    Examples are schedule and progress status information, budget and cost status, quality status, estimates to complete, resource utilization information, and lessons learned.
  • Quality control measurements
    The measurements from quality control activities are used in QA to evaluate and analyze the effectiveness of the project’s quality policy.

Perform Quality Assurance Process: Tools and Techniques

  • Plan Quality and Perform Quality Control tools and techniques
    Any of the tools from the Plan Quality (8.1) and Perform Quality Control (8.3) processes are also useful as part of performing quality assurance.
  • Quality audits
    Quality audits are independent reviews to determine whether appropriate controls, policies, processes, and procedures are being followed for quality management.
    Audits ensure that the project is complying with its own quality policy.
  • Process analysis
    Process analysis is a generalized tool categorization that involves techniques which examine the project's processes, looking for any non-value added activities (inefficiencies).
    Process analysis techniques implement the continuous improvement plan.

Perform Quality Assurance Process: outputs

  • Organizational process assets updates
    Quality assurance activities can result in updates to organizational quality standards.
  • Change requests
    Quality assurance can result in recommended improvements, which are treated as changes and coordinated through integrated change control for review.
  • Project management plan updates
    Quality assurance activities and approved changes relating to quality can impact several components of the project management plan, including the quality management plan, schedule management plan, and cost management plan.
  • Project document updates
    Audits, training materials, checklists, and process documentation are usually impacted by quality assurance activities.

Process Analysis

Process analysis is a generalized tool categorization that involves techniques which examine the project's processes, looking for any non-value added activities (inefficiencies).

Process analysis techniques implement the continuous improvement plan. Exactly what techniques are used depends upon the type of process, but the techniques used to re-engineer processes will be the same ones used to develop the process improvement plan (section 8.1), and will also include data collection and its subsequent analysis.

Quality Audits

Quality Audits ensure that the project is complying with its own quality policy. If it helps, we can think of quality audits as having a similar purpose to financial or accounting audits.

Both are independent reviews to determine whether appropriate controls, policies, processes, and procedures are being followed.

Quality audits are best performed by people from outside the project. Audits can result in recommended improvements to bring the project in better compliance with quality policies.

For organizations with a quality management system, the audit also determines the effectiveness of the QMS.

Since auditing is primarily about interviewing and collecting data, the project team can expect a lot of questions and requests for documentation during a quality audit.

We need to keep in mind that an audit is not about pointing out personal faults but is instead about making sure the processes and procedures are appropriately linked to the quality policy and are having the intended benefits.

Quality Audits

Quality Audits

Quality audits may be very broad or focused only on specific items. Audits are sometimes called vertical or horizontal audits.

A vertical audit focuses on a particular function or single-process while a horizontal audit follows a complete process from start to end, usually through several functional areas within the project or organization.

Quality audits can also be required for contractual or regulatory obligations, and in those cases, the party to perform the audit is usually specified in the contract or regulation.

In other cases, quality audits may be performed by a consultant or a member of the performing organization's quality department, or the customer may also perform quality audits of the project.

But in organizations without a quality department or people formally trained in quality management, the project management team will need to fill this role.

While this destroys the independent nature of an audit, it's much better for this process to be performed as objectively as possible by the project management team than for it not to be performed at all.

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