Thursday, September 4, 2008

Using Work Results for Project Quality Control

Have you ever had a quality plan, but wondered how the plan provided quality control information that could be used for analysis? The quality plan has reporting procedures and feedback that provide this information. This information is called work results. The two most common work results are performance reports and change requests. Each will be examined in turn.

Performance reports
Performance reports provide data that can be turned into various visual charts for analysis. Three of the most useful activities that performance reports measure are:
  • schedule adherence
  • cost adherence
  • quality standards adherence.
In performance reporting, the simpler the visual projection of the data, the better. This makes it easier to understand the requirement for action. Four of the most common performance reports are: Gantt charts, S-Curves, histograms, and tables.
In histograms, data is shown as a vertical bar graph. This illustrates major problem categories. It forms the basis for control charts and Pareto diagrams.

Tables are often used to convey more complex data in its raw data form. Tables can convey observational data.

Performance reports can have a direct impact on quality management. Simple visual images can easily emphasize the need for immediate change. They can also indicate the project plan is working well.

A project manager for a microchip project submitted a weekly performance report after a difficult week. The visual report showed that most of the department's problems were coding errors. This indicated that changes were needed to prevent errors from reaching the final product. The project manager will have to look into this problem in more detail.

Change requests
Almost every process or project encounters some difficulty that requires a change in the conditions of the project such as time, cost, or quality objectives. Project managers may request additional time or money to ensure the project meets its original definition and expectations for quality.

Change requests, another form of work results, ask for the alteration to the project's objectives or quality. This can occur if the product is urgently required or additional expenses for quality will not result in increased profits or sales.

Change requests can also require alterations to quality methodology. Changes in the handling of data used to measure the project, the measurement process and techniques of data collection, or the evaluation of data, can be requested.

The handling of data may change in its method of collection, depth of detail, or type of data. For example, a company introducing new machinery may need to develop new measurements to reflect the change in machinery or technology.

Changes to the process or techniques of data collection are meant to ensure reliability, consistency, standardization, review, timeliness and rapid access to data. For example, a company may adopt an advanced database to aid inputting and calculations.

Change requests can also require new methods of analysis and improvements to the quality of data. For example, a manufacturing company using new equipment may want more precise data and more sophisticated analysis.

The value of the work results in the form of performance reports and change requests lies in their identification of a potential problem. The data these results provide points the way for more in-depth analytical treatment.

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