Updated: Jan 5, 2020
What is the added value of quality assurance in managing large and complex projects ?
From our consultant Charles
“One may think that Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) are similar functions. It is not the case: QC is product-oriented and concerns defect identification. QA rather aims at checking if the product or service being developed will meet the established standards of quality (including reliability, usability and performance). To execute its mission, the QA consultant will leverage tools & specific processes.”
However, working as a QA analyst means going beyond this definition. Indeed, the QA has an additional role as middleman between the Project Leader and the Management.
The project leaders are managing their milestones, plans, budget, risks and resources on a daily basis. However they will not necessarily have a view on the other projects that might have an indirect impact on their project.
The role of the QA is to provide this external insight directly to the Project Leader (PL). The QA in most cases follows similar projects and/or coordinates with other QAs involved in adjacent project roadmaps. This gives him a holistic view and the capability to identify issues and risks earlier in the process. He will be able to alert the PL of the potential external impacts. Another responsibility of the QA is to ensure that the PL is aware of the methodology to be followed throughout the lifecycle of the project.
In some cases, the QA will have to coach or organize coaching sessions for the PL in order to allow him to execute their project in a leaner and efficient way. On the other hand, the QA has the role to gather information on the project, synthetize it and evaluate the project, to finally report the latter to the management. Once the project has been discussed with the management and decisions have been taken, the QA will then ensure that the decisions taken are respected and put into application.
The final role of the Quality Assurance team is to help reducing the defects to materialize, while Quality Control aims at fixing them. With rigorous analysis and sharing of their external knowledge and insight with the PL, the QA team is actively participating to the success of the project.
One of the important assets of a QA analyst, beside the technical expertise, is his adaptability and interpersonal capabilities. Indeed QA consultant must definitely navigate between, evolving scope, tight deadlines and strong budget constraints.
“I truly enjoyed working recently as a QA on an international assignment, overseeing 6 projects for a total around EUR 2 million IT budget. I highly appreciated the team work and my client highly valued the regular reporting on issues & risks arising in the large projects portfolio, potentially affecting multiple projects by knock-on effect. One of the important assets of a QA analyst, beside the technical expertise, is his adaptability and interpersonal capabilities. Indeed QA consultant must definitely navigate between, evolving scope, tight deadlines and strong budget constraints. Under these circumstances, the QA mission is sometimes perceived as an additional “burden” by these PLs. Only a QA analyst having adequate interpersonal skills can prove to his clients that, to the contrary, QA is an added value to the actual delivery of the project,” Charles