Quality Assurance Activities: Planning, Auditing and Analyzing Project Quality
Quality assurance (QA) activities are those actions the project team takes to inspect quality requirements, audit the results of control measurements and analyze quality performance in order to ensure that appropriate quality standards and procedures are appropriately implemented within the project.
Along with quality planning and control, Quality assurance is a part of quality management. Quality planning is a ‘preparatory’ phase of quality management and quality control is its ‘executive’ part (comprising different testing types like functional, integration, performance, usability testing or some all-around testing activities, e.g., digital testing). Quality assurance ‘stands’ between them and can be regarded as a ‘perfective’ Quality Management part
“Quality Assurance Activities” is an article of the Quality Management Section in the Project Implementation Guide. It describes the three kinds of QA activities that help the project manager and the team to develop a quality assurance plan template, audit quality performance, and review project activities, procedures and processes.
Quality Assurance in Project Management
The outcome of a project — success or failure — often depends upon one thing: did we get the deliverables of the highest quality?
Quality is fundamental to project management success and it cannot be considered in isolation. To succeed, your project team has to deliver the right quality at the right time and for the right cost.
In project-based organizations, the quest for business growth through fast innovation, and increasing reliance on technology solutions to deliver that innovation, while at the same time reducing cost and risk, requires a more rigorous approach to quality assurance and control.
The rising pressure of quality issues is a given in modern project management, and with many applications and systems getting smarter the traditional approach to managing project quality can no longer deliver. Quality issues add up low performance and poor predictability in a number of areas, for example:
- Difficulties in project implementation that causes missed deadlines, budget overruns, miscommunication, scope changes, defects and excessive rework.
- Increased project costs due to unplanned fixes, recalls, warranty claims.
- Inefficient long-term quality planning and control.
There are three key activities of quality assurance in project management, as follows:
- Develop a Quality Assurance Plan
- Audit Project Quality
- Analyze Project Quality
With these activities in place, your project team can deliver enduring quality and maintain the functionality, reliability,and performance of the deliverables.
Let’s review each of the activities.
1. Develop a Quality Assurance Plan
The first of the quality assurance activities is about planning the overall process for assuring quality. Its purpose is to design a quality assurance plan template (an efficient tool to assure quality in a project) and monitor problems and drawbacks that may appear during the project implementation process. The quality team needs to use such a plan to do the rest of the quality assurance activities, such Audit and Analysis.
The basic steps in creating a quality assurance plan template are:
- Set up goals of project assurance (why to assure the project’s quality?)
- Assign responsibilities to members of the quality team and determine the hierarchy of management (who will carry out the quality assurance activities?)
- Gather relevant information on the project standards and define compliance criteria (how to make quality assurance?)
- Identify a set of measurements and metrics to be used to determine quality levels and performance (is the project performed under appropriate quality levels?)
2. Audit Project Quality
A quality audit is a regular, systematic review of project activities to identify whether these activities are performed in line with organizational processes and tactical decisions. The goal of carrying out a project quality audit is to reveal any missing or inefficient policies, procedures and/or processes that reduce quality levels and increase the probability of project failure.
During a typical quality audit session the team under supervision of the project manager can review quality metrics (like budget deviation, on-time performance, failure rate, defect frequency) and measure project activities against the quality baseline.
Auditing quality allows identifying and correcting any deficiencies in project activities. As a process it results in decreased cost of quality management and enhanced product acceptance and customer satisfaction. Often quality auditing activities are carried out by external and independent auditors that provide expert knowledge and advice.
The quality assurance activity produces a formal confirmation document that proves necessary changes to the implementation process and serves as a foundation for developing corrective actions.
3. Analyze Project Quality
Quality analysis is a set of steps to examine and investigate a certain project activity and identify what enhances the activity’s value. The goal of project quality analysis is to review quality levels and define necessary improvements in the existing quality management framework.
The quality assurance activity allows examining experienced problems, deviations in constraints, and any activities that provide a value. It includes root cause analysis, fit analysis, methods for identifying and solving problems, and techniques for developing corrective actions.
For instance, during fit analysis product testing is used as a method for examining product features and checking they fit into the user acceptance criteria. A testing plan becomes a scenario for analyzing, assuring and validating product quality.
Quality assurance strategies in software development
Here are four key strategies of quality assurance in software development projects:
- Enable collaboration. Working in a collaborative environment, the members of your development team share the same meaning of software quality standards and requirements and stay in sync with detected quality issues and risk management activities.
- Track quality issues and bug submissions. By enabling a full life-cycle of quality traceability – form identifying and documenting issues and their sources – your team can predictably find the right lines of code for testing and ensure accurate test results and coverage status.
- Incorporate risk mitigation. This quality assurance strategy helps achieve more predictable cost, timing and quality as the development team can control risk and optimize resources to achieve quality objectives and deliver priority functionality with confidence.
- Automate QA reporting and analytics. A well-performing quality system is based on timely, accurate, reliable information about quality requirements, issues and assurance processes. Automation helps improve QA analytics and project management reporting for informed decision-making.