Our approach is to pursue continuous quality improvement. We measure, review results and feed adjustments back into the project. We are committed to providing our customers the highest quality products and services at a reasonable cost. We expect each employee to incorporate quality processes into their daily operations. Our COO is directly responsible for the operation and success of our QA efforts. Quality is ensured in by all of the steps described earlier. The depth of our staff’s experience is our biggest strength. Staff members are responsible for the quality of their own work. We have seasoned people who gather complete requirements so customer needs are not overlooked. We have conducted numerous COTS evaluations as well as developing custom software solutions and that experience helps ensure future successful outcomes.
Project initiation creates an early emphasis on quality. At the beginning of each project, the team identifies which Quality Assurance (QA) activities will be carried out. This includes some or all of the following: Conducting a Risk Analysis, performing peer and management reviews, formal QA reviews, comprehensive test plans, gathering feedback from all levels, establishment of quality service metrics, determining formal communications methods, and tracking and resolving errors. Formal quality reports addressing substantive issues document all reviews. These issues are tracked, resolved, briefed, and maintained in the project documentation.
A typical Risk Assessment might include the following:
- Selecting the wrong vendor. - The failure could be in meeting requirements, having a smooth implementation, receiving good ongoing support or viability as a business. The strongest mitigating action is to select proven solutions. The second most important item is to have complete requirements. Finally, it is important to have a thorough understanding of a vendor’s financial performance/business viability.
- Incomplete Requirements - To mitigate this risk, it's important to select the right stakeholders to make part of the project team. The stakeholders must be committed to providing the time necessary to provide input and review working documents. We must ensure they understand the time commitment required and their role in the evaluation process.
- Underestimating the amount of work for complete implementation - This can occur in both the technical and user communities. We must develop a complete implementation plan that incorporates timeline, budget, required resources and impact on users. Participation by the vendor is vital because a good vendor will have honed their implementation processes with previous customers. Quality vendors depend on customer success to maintain successful businesses and revenue streams. We will also look for opportunities to perform a phased implementation.
- Unavailability of key users - We will be flexible regarding when and how to interview busy users. We must accommodate any communication style preferred by a user such as face-to-face interviews, email, text messaging, conference calls, etc. We may also be able to provide preliminary materials prior to interviews to stimulate user thinking.
- Users don’t understand what they want and become frustrated - If a user is having trouble identifying their needs, we can provide them information about what other users have found important. We can also interview users about what they do in a typical day.
- Selection Bias where one or more powerful stakeholders unduly influence the selection of a preferred solution - Following a rigorous, vendor neutral, selection process and having complete system requirements are keys to mitigating this risk.
- Reliance on vendor demonstrations - Most vendor demonstrations show their products in the best light or show simplistic processes. We have users help develop scripts for vendors to include in the demonstrations so they are structured to be relevant to the needs of the organization.
- Over emphasis on system cost rather on best long term fit for an organization’s needs - We will mitigate this risk by analyzing project benefits, Performance Measures, Value Proposition and ROI. We will also articulate the key principle of choosing proven solutions because they are superiorin the long run and lowest risk.