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Checklists – use them prudently

Checklist uses and misuses.

Checklists have been in use for many years in manufacturing and IT industries. In IT typically development, testing and review activities have been using  checklists for complying to both process and technical requirements. In Manufacturing industries checklists are widely used for all operations in shop floor. It has helped the operational staff to ensure adherence to customer specifications, process standards and legal requirements.

However checklists should be used with right purpose and not as ticklists. Some times for audit compliances check lists are used and evidenced for audit purposes. This will reduce any innovation and improvements.

Use checklists prudently and go beyond checklist for innovation. After innovation review checklists and update for continuous processes. This way checklists will be effective and fully used.


Quality Assurance (process) key focus

Quality Assurance (Process QA) function in IT organizations are normally viewed as compliance and certification function.  What are the ways by which Process QA can get more attention?

QA should capture the best metrics that define the business and its growth dimensions. Typically Throughput of the product / services delivered by organizations are super effective indicator of the business and its progress.

QA should design the processes considering key critical success factor for maximizing the throughput of the organization. It will be better to have the Top down approach in identifying the business objectives and then deriving at the project level objectives. Measure team’s outcome and not individual’s output.

How are the Win4all factors integrated in formulating the throughput metric?

Does each and every department’s / program’s processes are focused towards attaining this Win4all?

Since QA has more visibility with most of the departments of the organization, they should proactively work with all teams and enable the entire system works towards achieving / exceeding organizational goal.

Avoid Creating an impression that QA is compliance function . Go to teams during normal working days. Don’t focus only during audits.

Being empathetic and understanding about Business processes: Each and every team might be different, make metrics and processes relevant to the team based on their contexts

Only measure Team metrics relevant to business

Share industry knowledge and latest trends through links, materials, webinars etc  to team.

Update your  technical skills of the core functions to a level where you get some useful inputs as to how best the team’s process can be tailored.

Appreciate good work always and don’t just restrict to raising non conformances.

Process should be enjoyable as the end product.

Co create innovation.


SIPOC for Student’s performance

SIPOC in Education – Getting good grades / poor grades



Supplier Inputs Process Outputs Customer
Student Syndrome mindset Inconsistent and delayed preparation


Procrastination of studies till exams


Exam pressure, tight timelines Student’s poor performance
Student’s poor performance low grades drop in confidence more pressure backlogs of higher expectations of University from Student
backlogs of higher expectations of University peer pressure trying for compensating of poor performance Average grades Incompetent student (for placements)

Few actions on reducing cost of quality

Follow up on yesterday’s post  about reducing cost of Quality on long-term basis few thoughts coming to my mind :

Develop knowledge base and keep them current always on key policies and strategies of the organization

Have some test cases upon applying some key practices above and include the outputs

Have the outcome / ROI data by comparing above and after implementation of best practices

Capture the voice of stakeholders from customer, project teams, support teams, sales, senior management about the various cases / product deployment experience based on practices.

Include these aspects and learning into training module during induction and on the job training.

More importantly have training content and delivery as per the role and context.

Add to the knowledge base on an ongoing process.



Reduce Cost of Quality on long term

Measuring the cost of quality towards long term benefits :

Identify bottlenecks that creates / adds up cost.

Prioritize them and measure the impact.

Analyze the cost / opportunity lost because of the bottleneck costs.

Try and understand the cost of quality for preventive,failure and appraisal categories.

Prevention costs are attributed to training , process orientation and planning costs.

Appraisal costs are reviews and tests costs.

Failure – is both internal and external reworks due to defects and complaints.

While the three costs vary depending upon the nature of the industry, product and size, the goal of the organization is to ensure the Total cost of quality towards very minimal or zero.

The measurement of the costs of quality should actually be focused on the long term vision considering the whole system. Short term measurement and planning will not produce bearkthrough improvements in product life cycle.

SIPOC for organizational policies

In identifying context of the organization , ISO 27001 / ISO 9001 standards recommend to look for external parties / internal stakeholders under common term called interested parties.

Let us try to understand these using SIPOC methods. Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties – SIPOC way

Supplier Inputs Process Outputs Customer
Customers Functional, Non functional, Information Security, Legal and statutory requirements Request for proposal, Contractual requirements, Scope of work Agreed contractual requirements, features and needs statement, Statement of work Software Vendors
Senior Management Organizational mission, vision and policies Organizational policies, procedures, code of work, Key Responsible Areas. Codified procedures, statements and Roles and Responsibilities Employees
Delivery and support functions Expectations and roles statements Communication during project / functional induction and work activities


Task Assignments, Team management expectations, targets, etc Team members / employees

Form follows function – part II

Decision making has always been a challenging exercise for new organizations as regards to Product mixes, market positioning or choosing models for program management / project management activities.

Consider choosing a model for product development. Let us assume that the given area (scope / resources available) is same for executing a project. Which engagement / development model would you choose?

Its like deciding between which shape choose for a building / construction , given constant area. Whether to go for circle, triangle of rectangle or any other polygon.

Let us consider some thoughts attributed the shapes.

Circular – Agile developmental methodology – where the schedule is fixed (sprint days of 2 weeks – 4 weeks) while the scope is variable. Agile model typically releases working iterations / products in each sprint / releases and again goes into next sprint cycle. Circular shapes represent Agile methodologies for variable scope and quick delivery models.

Square shapes are kind of rigid and almost like waterfall development methodologies, where schedule changes to accomodate the fixed scope that ‘must’ go into the releases. This is obviously ineffeicient model involving high costs and scheule overruns.

Rectangle are kind of sligthly better than square where they accomodate slight changes to schedules and deliver products with extended schedule. Again not much different from square models and they share the same limitations as that of sqaure.

Triangle – This represents Critical project management development where more flexibility is offered when compared to square models. We can think of three edges of triangle as representatives of People, process and technology. So the idea is in case of any impact on schedule of the product delivery, one of these three parameters can be taking extra efforts by adding buffer in more people / additional processes / better technology like automation etc.

Polygons – this model is a hybrid of many models discussed above to suit the real time demands of the product development.

Always make form (shapes) follow function (purpose) for achieving sustained success in business.