Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Improvement Checkpoints for PPQA

The PPQA Process Area deals with the quality audits of the projects as well as the support groups. The main responsibility of PPQA person is to check for process compliance and help the project team in implementing the Quality Management System (QMS) as best for the projects.

Suppose in an organization all the projects are following the organization's standard processes correctly. What additional things can PPQA can suggest to the project? For example can PPQA suggest the best tailoring for the project scope etc.?

Please let me know what types of value added tasks can be done by PPQA. OR in other words, please describe possible checkpoints that PPQA can check during an audit.

I look at PPQA and auditing the same way I look at the testers and tests. If the testers are using a specific test case and over time the test case is executing properly and no longer finding defects, then the test case needs to be examined to determine if it is still needed. Perhaps the test case is no longer valid. Perhaps it needs to be enhanced to make it more useful. Perhaps it needs to be kept and used for regression testing. Etc. The same is true for PPQA and the audits. If an audit is no longer identifying issues or non-compliances, then you have to question the audit’s effectiveness. You also have to question the frequency of conducting the audit.

Personally, I would be highly suspicious if all of your PPQA audits came out clean with no findings. Over time as your processes and procedures become institutionalized I would expect that you would find less and less non-compliances, but not zero. People make mistakes and when someone new joins the organization it will take some time before they have personally institutionalized their processes.

PPQA has two roles in the organization:

  1. Process consultants
  2. Process police

PPQA is there is enforce the organization’s processes and procedures and identify when they are not being followed. When an issue is discovered in an audit, PPQA needs to determine the root cause. Is the process broken/inadequate? Is it a training issue? Is it a personnel issue? Etc. And PPQA is also there to help people understand why and how to use the organization’s processes. So it is perfectly reasonable to have PPQA suggest process changes, tailoring options, improvement suggestions to the project, etc. while coordinating with the SEPG or EPG.

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