Quality Assurance Plan
Quality management receives major emphasis at Ashworth, and we make it clear that we expect the same concern about quality from our subcontractors. We develop a Quality Assurance Plan for each task that is derived from and consistent with the proven principles of ISO9001 and CMMI.
Our internal quality assurance program ensures that products and services are delivered with the highest of quality standards. We have found that active involvement by the quality assurance team assures high quality technical performance, timely and accurate status reporting, and delivery of products on time and within budget. We assign an independent quality assurance advisor to each task with a direct reporting relationship to the program manager. The quality assurance advisor is a vital link in our ability to continually implement and improve processes, procedures, and training necessary to ensure that all products and services are delivered with the highest quality and workmanship and satisfy the customer’s requirements. Since we assign this advisor at the beginning of the task and monitor quality at each stage in the development of a deliverable we avoid the costly retrofit often seen when quality control measures are used at the end of the development cycle. As we perform more repetitive tasking under this contract, we believe it will soon be possible to anticipate quality issues based on sample data from the processes, insert corrective actions sooner, predict our cost savings accurately, and include the savings in our budgets. For example, as the processes for repetitive tasking become well-defined, we can implement controls that automatically trigger corrective action when specified thresholds are reached.
The quality assurance organization is responsible for preventing the occurrence of product and service non-conformity. It is also responsible for identifying, recording, and evaluating quality problems. Once the organization has gathered data from their observations and performed the necessary analyses, they are expected to initiate, recommend, and provide solutions for the problems they’ve identified. Their specific tasks are to evaluate the products produced by our teams; audit the processes used by the teams; participate in the peer review processes; review subcontractor deliverables; attend customer reviews such as PDRs and CDRs; and, establish quality goals and measure progress toward those goals.
One of the fundamental supports for the success of this program is providing initial training focused on working within the contract structure. Our training program requires that we provide new employees who have some previous work experience in this industry with refresher training in their assigned project, and in our use of the Capability Maturity Model Integrated, Fagan inspection processes, configuration management processes, and appropriate engineering processes such as requirements analysis, and preliminary system design to mention only a few. Newly hired, inexperienced employees have a slightly different program, starting with company specifics and orientation in how the company works, how our customers are organized, and how they work as well. New employees will be trained in specific processes they will use as members of an engineering or scientific team, and professional training to help prepare them for later roles in the team. Object-oriented design is an example of a subject available as part of professional training.
Although Ashworth has been in business since 1998, it is new to federal contracting, and DoD. As such, it is our intent to begin the process for ISO 9001 certification as soon as possible, because we recognize the need for standardization and quality management.