Checklist for Success
Now that an understanding of the quality philosophy is established, it is necessary to outline a checklist that will help in following the continuous improvement process to ensure zero defects.
(Please note that the reference to 'customer' is one or many individuals with a specific demand)
1. Customer requirements: When it comes to quality planning, the customer and customer requirements tops the list. Therefore, it is inevitable that a business knows exactly who the customers are and what they want. How long will this product / service be in demand? How useful will it be to the customer? Is the business able to reach customer required specifications? Once answers to these questions are met, they can be marked as completed on the checklist. This should be in compliance with the scope of the project or business operations. Only then can you proceed to the next step.
2. Customer positioning: The specifications for a product or service are understood by the time this phase is reached. The next point will be to determine whether the customer is to be retained or relieved from a business deal. If the customer is retained, will the customer base expand or decrease? What is the volume of customers you will be catering to?
3. Forecasting: Forecasting the durability, efficiency and life of a product is very important. Based on what the requirement is, financial feedback and advice will play an important part. This part of the checklist is to assess the scope and the customer base to determine how much it will cost the company. This will encompass features such as demographic distribution, current economy rating, existing technology, etc. The time factor too plays a part in forecasting the cost to company.
4. Gap Analysis: The current state and the future state of the organization will have to be understood in relation to quality expectations. Will the quality expectations be too high so more time is needed? Will resources and funds slow down the operations of other business objectives? Identifying gaps between project quality demands and business operations is part of the checklist.
5. Gap Closure: Once the gaps are identified, it is necessary to close these gaps so there is a balance in the business operations which includes all projects as well. These gaps can be closed only by setting goals and responsibilities. Goals and responsibilities are outlined by all stakeholders together, as stakeholders have a vested interest in the project. This will form the area of Quality Management. There are many processes that fall under this step as sub-sections in the checklist. Some of the processes are to evaluate:
- Software tools
- Software product review
- Requirements analysis
- Design process
- Integration testing
- Acceptance testing
- Corrective actions
- Storage and handling
- Configuration management
- Risk management
- Configuration audits
A main part of the checklist under this step will involve strategic human resource intervention to aid in:
- On the job training
- Hire individuals who are trained and experienced, and have strong leadership skills
- Create an atmosphere of harmony between team members and top-level management
- Create proper channels for communication
6. Alignment: All the above steps are part of the planning phase. These steps, once they are ready to be implemented have to be in alignment with the scope and mission of the project. While the steps are meant to be from A to B at the start, they may ultimately divert as A to C. Therefore, it is important to double check all specifications, goals and responsibilities are in alignment with the scope of the project, for this is what the customer requires.
7. Implementation & Control: While implementation and control are not technically part of planning, planning and assessing of quality standards are ongoing processes. With the concept of the PDCA Cycle and process of continuous audits, the quality planning checklist is almost complete. The checklist ends once specifications are met and a status of zero defects is attained. Until then it will be a cycle of planning and actions.