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Execute Quality Assurance Plan (QAP)

Managing project quality assures that a product or service under contract meets the Client's quality requirements. Quality assurance (QA) is defined as the evaluation of overall project performance on a regular basis to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards. The goal of QA is to provide the Client with appropriate visibility into the "health" of the contract, with respect to quality objectives.

A quality assurance plan (QAP) is a component of the purchase plan outlined in the Develop Purchase Plan and Best Value Parameters topic of the Prepare Project task in Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources. The purchase plan provides the overall strategy for accomplishing and managing a purchase. The QAP describes the strategy and methods the project will deploy to ensure that the contract and its deliverables are on track to meeting Client requirements.

The QAP is an important component of delivery and performance management because it is the shared understanding between the Client, the Purchase/SCM Team, and the Supplier on both how to measure and monitor quality and how to determine and implement corrective actions. By adhering to the QAP, the project is one step closer to delivering the highest-possible-quality result within available resources, schedule, and budget.

Develop the Quality Assurance Plan (QAP)

The Client works closely with the Quality Assurance Team to carry out a contract's QA activities. The Quality Assurance Team is often made up of members of the Purchase/SCM Team and reports to the both the Client and the Contracting Officer.

Each project should have some form of QAP. The complexity and formality of the plan should be scaled according to the size and potential risk of the project. The Quality Assurance Team drafts the QAP and submits it to the Client for review and approval.

The QAP addresses both key project processes and project deliverables. The QAP establishes clear and specific criteria for defining quality at each key checkpoint and for each deliverable. The QAP should include a surveillance schedule and clearly stated surveillance method(s). Surveillance can range from a one-time inspection of a product or service to periodic in-process inspections of ongoing product or service delivery. It also clearly states review method(s), the chain of reports, and plans for corrective actions.

Basic quality requirements are addressed in 4-1: General Terms and Conditions. However, Clause 2-2: Quality Management Systems should be included in supply or service contracts when the supplies or services being purchased are extensive, complex, or unique and the Postal Service requires that the Supplier maintain a quality management system. Clause 2-1: Inspection and Acceptance may be included in contracts for supplies or services; however, Clause 2-1 and Clause 2-2 should not be included in the same contract. Clause 2-23: Reimbursement - Postal Service Testing must be included when Clause 2-1 or Clause 2-2 are included in the contract.

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Execute the QAP

Independent and regular evaluations of project performance provide the confidence that the project is progressing in a satisfactory manner. These reviews monitor the effectiveness of project processes and pinpoint project risks. The Quality Assurance (QA) Team documents quality assurance reviews using quality assurance reports to indicate status and make recommendations. Because minimizing risk is an integral part of quality management, the Contracting Officer, who is responsible for risk management on the project, should ensure that risk management reviews parallel quality assurance reporting intervals specified in the QAP.

Quality assurance reviews take place at the checkpoints cited in the QAP. Reviews include separate interviews with the Client, Supplier, members of the Purchase/SCM Team, and other project stakeholders. Evaluation criteria and approval authority have been outlined in the QAP, which should be revisited by the Quality Assurance Team with the review participants.

Upholding quality standards is a team effort. The Client, Supplier, and Purchase/SCM Team share joint responsibility with the QA Team for executing the QAP. Critical success factors to executing the QAP include:

The Client, Supplier, and Purchase/SCM Team abide by decision-making structures and processes for advising corrective actions and implementing QA recommendations in a timely manner.

QA recommendations are addressed at the appropriate level.

Involve independent QA staff early in the project; this will allow time for them to develop project knowledge and prepare for an integrated review process.

Client and Purchase/SCM Team invite QA representation at key meetings, site visits, and project activities.

The Client and Purchase/SCM Team address points of risk identified in QA reports in a timely manner, using the risk management plan to assess risk trends and evaluate recommendations and risk mitigation strategies.

Respond quickly to implement QA recommendations or revise processes.

Maintain thorough and accurate documentation of all inputs and outputs of the processes, reporting, tracking, recommendations, and corrective action activities

QA review should help channel communications among the Client, the Purchase/SCM Team, and the Suppliers. A three-way feedback mechanism will alert participants to early signs of risks and avoid costly corrections later in the project.

Document lessons learned to use for reviews on the Postal Service intranet knowledge site.

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Other Topics Considered

Manage Risks topic, Decide on Make vs. Buy task, Process Step 1: Identify Needs

Develop Purchase Plan and Best Value Parameters topic, Prepare Project task, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

Consider Performance-Based Contracting Arrangements topic, Develop Sourcing Strategy, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

Acceptance topic, Complete Delivery task, Process Step 4: Deliver and Receive Requirements

Clauses & Provisions

Clause 2-1: Inspection and Acceptance

Clause 2-2: Quality Management System

Clause 2-23: Reimbursement - Postal Service Testing

Clause 4-1: General Terms and Conditions

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