Quality assurance (QA) is a process of verifying quality standards through inspection to ensure that the outcome meets standardization and quality requirements for a product or a service.
QA can be:
- Internal (when a company sets its quality standards) or
- External (when those quality standards require an external formal audit, authorization, or approval).
Internal QA is informal because you won’t get a certificate from a governmental agency. However, that doesn’t mean that it is less significant.
Unless you perform quality assurance by yourself, your clients and customers will do it for you through a failed product or poor feedback on service.
Setting standards in every facet of work is what distinguishes top-performing from struggling businesses.
Quality assurance requires that you maintain the standards you have selected. Maintaining QA standards is about taking action to address your declaration and intention for quality assurance. Be it in project management, product control, security compliance, or day-to-day work of how you meet goals and help your team perform; you need to be consistent in establishing a quality assurance system.
Any quality assurance system must show that what you do across time is what you planned to do in the first place.
- The outcomes must match the plan.
- The result must match the goal.
Many businesses fail to meet goals precisely because they skip doing this important QA step. Learn how!
It is not as complex as it sounds when you have the right formula for maintaining quality across the board, starting from you as a leader.
Quality Assurance in Project Management: Definition
If you have a certification in Project Management, you have probably heard this definition:
QA in project management is a series of actions to ensure all previous steps in a particular project process have been taken according to the project plan.
For example, this can be ensuring that progress reports have been submitted on time and in an appropriate format or that a team member has met the qualifications to perform a task.
Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control
It is important not to mix quality assurance as a tool for examining processes with quality control as a tool for reviewing outputs.
If you run a business and want to use QA in project management for every aspect of your business, it is helpful to link quality assurance with KPIs and quality control with OKRs.
If you view quality assurance as a checkbox tool, you can set up all your projects and work processes as a system of actions. In such systems, everyone knows the steps they need to take at every time.
This system is easy to follow:
- It assures quality is there without the QA itself posing an unnecessary burden on your resources.
- It takes care of itself because you have taken the time to set up quality standards and make them an integral part of how your team works.
The Three Elements of Quality Assurance (QA)
QA consists of three crucial elements: objectives, specifications, and measurement.
- Objectives are closely tied to business goals and business strategy.
- Specifications describe how you translate goals into specific actions for job roles within a certain context.
- Measurement is a part of QA that provides a clear link between projections and realization.
The Role of QA in Project Management
You cannot achieve a quality of outcomes without achieving quality of processes. That is the role of quality assurance in PM — to guarantee that quality is entangled in all processes so that the excellent standards by which a job is done are a part of the job’s outcome.
How to Ensure Quality Assurance in a Project
As a leader, you must play the role of Quality Assurance Manager for your business as a whole by:
- Installing quality in the hiring process.
- Defining the job role quality requirements.
- Setting guidelines about quality in task performance.
- Doing periodical self-checks for personal quality assurance.
- Prioritizing quality in the business strategy.
- Interlinking quality standards into project workflows.
- Measuring outcomes to ensure your progress goes as planned.
From the above, it becomes clear that quality assurance is a strategic goal, if not a priority, to ensure progress.
Quality Assurance Manager in Project Management
Many businesses make the QA manager a part of their team when working on a complex project. For example, software QA with multiple stakeholders requires a Quality Assurance Analyst who will hold everyone up to the task. The QA Analyst defines quality standards, especially when advanced technical knowledge is in question, and keeps everyone accountable.
There are many tasks the QA Manager can do, and not having one is costly when you have to keep an eye on multiple priorities and check many boxes.
When you don’t have sufficient resources to hire a quality assurance manager, you can either:
- Take that role yourself.
- Delegate the part to an existing team member.
- Hire a new QA person.
Whatever you choose to do, QA can drain on your resources and create unnecessary bottlenecks in project management.
Listen to the Virtual Frontier Podcast to learn more about QA in Project Management
The problem arises when you sacrifice quality to resources or resources to quality because you don’t know how to adapt the process to the newly required quality standard.
In this either-or situation, mistakes often happen. And they don’t need to when you make quality a part of your strategy.
This means setting an example with your leadership principles to inspire a follow-through from your team.
Need help in setting quality standards and creating break-proof QA processes?
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