Perform Quality Assurance II

December 4, 2009

Quality audits and Process analysis are common tools and techniques used in the perform QA process. Tools techniques used in the plan QA and perform QC processes are also used. In this part 1 of review of the tools & techniques, we shall review the tools & techniques used in the plan quality. Balance will be discussed in the part 2 of these articles.

Quality Planning

Tools & techniques used during plan quality phase include cost benefit analysis, looking at the cost of quality, control charts, benchmarking, design of experiments, statistical sampling, flow-charting and so on. There are some well known quality processes and some may have been adopted at your organization. Techniques from such processes are useful too. These may be the six-sigma or the quality function deployment (QFD) related techniques. Additional tools used would include brainstorming, affinity diagrams, force field analysis, nominal group techniques, matrix diagrams and prioritization matrices. These techniques have been discussed in details when discussing the quality plan processes. We shall touch upon them briefly here.

Benefits of quality are that of less rework, higher productivity and increased satisfaction with the product/ project/ process item. This is offset with the cost of quality steps needed against the money value of the benefits. Cost of quality is derived by the balance of the cost of conformance versus the cost of non conformance. The cost of conformance includes the prevention costs and the appraisal costs as against the non-conformance cost that includes the internal failures and external failure costs. Essentially is the difference in costs to achieve a level of quality versus the warranty and support costs that will be required to meet the failures due to low quality.

Control charts help in monitoring a process through a set of measurements, including on a sample population, to control the underlying process. The control chart will usually have a set of desired values which are bounded by the upper and lower most variations acceptable. Control lines that are better than the worst variations are used to ensure the limits are never reached. Whenever there is undue variation or a drifting trend, the process needs a tune up.

Benchmarking helps establish good/best practices by comparison to other such best practices while design of experiments establishes what to expect when some significant parameters are varied in a designed manner.

Statistical sampling is the technique of drawing a small population of items, do measurements on them and draw conclusions about the larger population. Statistical theory basis for the whole way of doing the analysis are available and the quality people will need to be aware of the foundations.

Flowcharting is a technique of describing a process graphically so that conclusions about it can be drawn from the understanding derived from the flow-chart. It describes process steps and decision points to represent the process.

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