How will you answer to a common man’s question upon your profession?

Suppose, you are a Quality engineer. But if a person who is not at all related to IT world asks you about your job, how will you answer?

I thought about the same in many dimensions.

Hmm.. It is easy to have a complex definition.. but It is pretty difficult to make it a simpler one

So coming back to the Question, “Who is a Process Engineer/Process consultant/Quality Engineer”?

QA

We all are working based on certain discipline.

Companies are also not at all an exception. They are abiding to some standards. Sometimes they make their own standards and follow the policies inline to those standards.

Otherwise they seek compliance to industry wide accepted standards and models like ISO, CMMI, ASPICE, TL 9000, FDA, AS 9100 etc.

Sometimes they even go for certification or assessment against these standards, so that they can proudly claim that “we are compliant to ISO xxx etc” and definitely which will be an added value in front of the clients.

Now who will be monitoring the compliance on a long run? Disciplines are to be ensured life long, right?

Similarly companies need to ensure that the defined policies are implemented and updated on a regular basis. If the responsibility is shared among each and every employee, it will end nowhere and ultimately everything is diluted.

So companies keep a separate group known as process consultant or QA engineers.

  • They mainly help the organization to comply with these standards.

  • They train the employees on the implementation part.

  • They write policies and procedures and ensure that it is shared to relevant people.

  • They ensure that these policies are practiced inside the projects through proper audits.

  • They escalate the issues and update the status to senior management.

  • They initiate corrective actions and preventive actions whenever required.

  • The job does not end here. If the company had gone for certification/assessment this team plays a main role for an easy go.

So this is the bare minimum responsibility of a QA engineer. And depending upon the organization, tasks vary. There are consultants who do data analysis and come up with interesting facts about the organization.

So in short, QA team is the team who ensures process compliance within an organization.

In this article, 7 statistical tests are explained which are essential for doing statistical analysis inside a CMMI High Maturity (HM) compliant project or organization.

1       Stability test

Definition:

Data stability for the selected parameter is tested using minitab before making performance baselines.

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat->Control Charts-> I-MR (In variables, enter the column containing the parameter)
  2. From the section for Estimate, choose ‘Average Moving Range” as methods of estimating sigma and ‘2’ as moving range of length
  3. From section of tests, choose specific tests to perform
  4. From the section for ‘Options’ enter sigma limit positions as 1 2 3.

Results:

After eliminating all the out of turn points, the system attains stability and is ready for baseline.

2       Capability test

Definition:

Once the selected parameter is baselined, capability of the same to meet the specification limits are tested.

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat->Quality Tools->Capability Sixpack(Normal), Choose single Column, (In variables, enter the column containing the parameter), Enter ‘1’ as subgroup size),Enter Lower spec and upper spec,
  2. From the section for Estimate choose ‘Average Moving Range” as methods of estimating sigma and ‘2’ as moving range of length,
  3. From the section for Options, enter ‘6’ as sigma tolerance, choose ‘within subgroup analysis’ and ‘percents’, and Opt ‘display graph’

Results:

If the control limits are within specification limits or the Cp and Cpk values are equal to or greater than one, the data is found to be capable.

3       Correlation test

Definition:

Correlation test will be conducted between each independent parameter and the dependent parameter (if both are of continuous data type) in the Process Performance Model.

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat->Basis Statistics ->Correlation (Opt display P values)

Results:

For each correlation test p-value has to be less than 0.05 (or the decided p value within the organization based on risk analysis)

4       Regression test

Definition:

Regression test will be conducted including all the independent parameters and the dependent parameter in the Process Performance Model.

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat->regression->regression; (In response and predictors, enter the columns containing the dependent and independent parameters respectively)
  2. From the section for storage, include Residuals also

Results:

  • p-value has to be less than 0.05 for each factor as well as for the regression equation obtained. (Or the decided p value within the organization based on risk analysis)
  • [R-Sq (adj)] has to be greater than 70 %( or the decided value within the organization based on risk analysis) for ensuring the correlation between the independent parameters and the dependent parameter. Otherwise, the parameter cannot be taken.
  • Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) has to be less than 10. If VIF is greater than 10, correlation test (stat->basic statistics->correlation) will be conducted among the different parameters which are influencing Process Performance Model. In cases where    correlation is high i.e. correlation greater than 0.5 or -0.5, the factors have dependency. In such cases if degree of correlation is quite high one of the factors will be avoided or relooked for new terms.

5       Normality test

Definition:

Normality of the data is tested using the Anderson-Darling test.

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat > Basic Statistics > Normality Test> Anderson-Darling test
  2. In Variables, enter the columns containing the measurement data.

Results:

For the data to be normally distributed, null hypothesis cannot be rejected. For this p value has to be greater than 0.05 (or the decided p value within the organization based on risk analysis) and A2 value has to be less than .757.

6       Test for Two Variances

Definition:

Test for Two Variances is conducted to analyse whether variances are significantly different in two sets of data.

This null hypothesis is tested against the alternate hypothesis (two samples are having unequal variance)

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat > Basic Statistics > 2 Variances.
  2. Opt ‘Samples in Different Columns’. In Variables, enter the columns containing the measurement data

Results: If the test’s p-value is less than the chosen significance level (normally 0.05), null hypothesis will be rejected.

7       Two sample T- Test

Definition:

Two sample T test is used to check whether means are significantly different in two periods for two groups of data.

The null hypothesis is checked against one of the alternative hypotheses, depending on the situation.

Steps:

  1. Go to Stat > Basic Statistics > 2 Sample T
  2. Opt ‘Samples in Different Columns’. In Variables, enter the columns containing the measurement data.( First should be the initial data and second should be current data)
  3. Check or uncheck the box for “Assume equal variances” depending upon the F test results (Two variance Test results)
  4. In the Options, use the required alternative, whether ‘not equal’, ‘less than’ or ‘greater than’.
  5. Put test difference as 0 and confidence interval as 95.

Results:

If the test’s p-value is less than the chosen significance level (normally 0.05), null hypothesis has to be rejected.

Am I organized? Are you organized?

Do you feel cluttered; shall we first analyze the reasons behind the same.

ClutteredLazy..?

No time..?

Poor memory..?

Fear of Failure..?

Procrastination..?

To start organizing our life, we need to acknowledge the cause and make a decision to overcome it. Organization takes time, but when we get into the habit of it, life becomes so much easier!

Configuration Management is not a mere CMMI PA or an ISO requirement. Don’t assume it to be limited to an organization, seeking for appraisal. Configuration management is an inevitable part of one’s daily life.

Let me connect it to an organized lifestyle. Organization starts from the moment we wake up. Even before that, it should start as planning for a day begins much before that.

1. Making lists

There are many things which we often forget in our day to day life. Say like list of grocery items, names of people who we met recently, birthdays, anniversaries etc. Why do we need to stress our brain by handling all these stuffs while the brain has got many other important jobs? And that too in a world with many technical advancements to keep reminders. More over once we start writing, it becomes a habit. And writing a thing or a name makes us to remember the same even without looking at it at a later point. I always prefer to have a pen and paper, which is a permanent reminder. You can have your laptop or smart phones or even a pen-paper to write down the reminders or your appointments or anything else. I have a small whiteboard on my bedroom wall (which is not easily noticeable by outsiders). Upon which I made two columns, one for ‘to do’ list and another for ‘today’ list. “Todo” is a list of general things I have to do. Then “today” is what I need to do, obviously, today! I also keep two things unchanged on the “today” part, which are surya namaskar and exercise. This seems to help. I do wish to include one more item permanently, i.e meditation. But somehow it’s getting skipped. I need to be more cautious. Make a To do list for your day, week month and the year..

2. Making planner

Observe your day. How long you are taking for each activity. Are you wasting your time? Make schedules for your day or week or month. Plan your activities accordingly. Make deadlines and set goals. And do ensure to check your bucket list on a periodic basis. Review your milestones. Write down the thigs you want to achieve this year in your life and break down the yearly goals to monthly goal and write down what you need to achieve them. Get a calendar and place it so that you can see it every morning. Your calendar can remind you to do things on time. Touch today’s date on the calendar and see what’s marked for today and for the upcoming week.

3. Don’t set aside small things for tomorrow

As far as possible just ensure to complete the things by today itself. Don’t leave it to tomorrow as it may make it further delayed or even make it incomplete. Today you will be much clearer on what to be done. You may not have that much clarity tomorrow. Ignoring stuffs, thinking to be a silly thing, often we set it aside and ultimately it gets never completed. Don’t think or ask yourself repeatedly “Should I do it now “. Even that question itself is sufficient enough to get it postponed. Don’t think more, just do it. Also try to remove your distractions when focused on work which have a deadline, whatever they are. Often it is the internet, your phone, sleep, or even a good book.

4. Have a fresh start.

When we wake up on a holiday, just try to forget it to be a holiday. Do our regular works as if we have to go to office. Get refreshed as early as possible. This will change our mental perspective. Now, we have more confidence as we are presentable to the world.

5. Dependency Planning

Don’t make yourself in a que. A que is the place which steals a lot of our time. I’m not mentioning about a physical que, which may or may not be avoidable depending upon your timings. Let me take the extracts from one of my posts, I’m more productive when I’m Busy Suppose there are two urgent mails to be replied. Our normal tendency is to just start writing the letter taking one by one. And in the middle way only, it will be realized that there is missing information and the person who knows about it, is out of reachable now. So either we fail in the task or happens a lot of que time. So think parallel. Will there be a que time..? How can I avoid the que time..? First of all just analyze both cases and ensure whether you have all the information to be drafted in the mails. If not, find and clear out the dependency factors immediately. Then go ahead… no que time.. 🙂

6. Have a room for all of your items

It is equally important to keep things in their proper physical places. Don’t get things around here and there. Keep documents filed. Have separate files for different kind of documents. Store things in their storage area under proper label. Never have a miscellaneous storage place as items may get dumped over there. It must be ensured that you are keeping things that you want only. The more the things, the more the clutter. Go and check your cabinets, boxes, drawers etc. Whatever you find as ‘dust’, keep it aside. Then find way to kick them out of your sweet home. Organized doesn’t just mean tidy and beautiful in appearance. The purpose of organization is to be able to find, exchange, and evaluate items quickly. You can arrange your books in the shelf in the increasing height of your books. But it will confuse you to pick a specific book as it is not an arrangement based on category. So make it categorized and thus organized.

7. Put it back

Putting things back into their cases is equally important. As soon as you are finished using it, don’t leave it here and there. Ensure to keep in their allocated room.

  • Always put your phone in the same place. Have a cell phone charging place set up.
  • Always keep your keys together in the same place.
  • Put your pens in the pen stand after use.
  • Keep your bills in the file after payments.

8. Delegate your tasks and work hard

As far as possible, delegate your tasks. No wonder, you can delegate small tasks even to your kids. In fact delegating is not only beneficial for the giver but also for the receiver. Once you have delegated your responsibilities and made a schedule, you can organize yourself in the best possible way. Don’t give up when you feel exhausted. There is no limit to human skills. It gets molded in the way you tune it. If you make it to work hard, it will adopt to the situation.

9. Set a Vision

Have you thought about your vision and found the same? Many of you might have. I also thought a lot about the purpose of my life, but reached nowhere. I think something is there in my mind, but it’s not coming out. I can’t express it in words. And working behind many other goals, but I know it’s not my life vision. So I’m still trying.. Anyway I’m quite sure that we need to find our vision and work for it.

10. Reorganize

Finally, but the most importantly we need to ensure the practice of reorganization. Things are not alive people. They need to be manually reorganized. Do it on a weekly basis.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) technical committee has recently released a guidance document- “Guidance on the Requirements for Documented Information of ISO 9001:2015”. The purpose this guidance document is to help the implementers of ISO 900- 2015 with specific regards to documented information.

ISO 9001-2015 allows flexibility for an organization in the way it chooses to document its Quality Management System (QMS). ISO 9001-2008 demanded a set of mandatory procedures. In ISO 9001-2015 there is no demand for record or procedures, instead it is stated as documented information. Based on the new version, organization can choose the type and formats for documenting the QMS. It could be of any media / any type of file (e.g. checklists, flowchart etc)

This doesn’t mean that documentation is going away from ISO 9001-2015. Documentation is required and it should be kept under control too.  It is not required to rewrite the existing QMS in an organization already compliant to ISO 9001-2008 to meet the requirements of IS 9001-2015. Organizations can use terms which suit their operations, e.g., records, documentation, protocols, etc. rather than documented information.

What is Annex SL in ISO 9001-2015?

Annex SL is a platform upon which all the ISO management system standards rest. Yea, many more are there yet to reach the platform.  Some already took their places, including ISO 9001. With the September 2015 release, ISO 9001 also became a member in this Annex family.

Through this post I’m trying to analyze the change in perspectives/added advantages introduced in the ISO family with the introduction of Annex SL.

Annex SL- An Integrated Management System Approach

It was pretty difficult to manage the parallel show inside an organization with multiple management system standards. And difficult for the auditors too. Even though the standards like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 have many common elements, there were described and organized differently. Thus it was a cumbersome task for organizations to implement them together. Now the similarities across the standards are framed under a common umbrella and removed the conflicts across the standards. Thus Annex- SL makes the creation of an integrated management system much easier.

Annex SL – A new template for ISO management system standards

Annex SL is written primarily as a guide to who creates new standards. The core of Annex SL consists of 8 clauses and 4 appendices. (Illustrated in the below figure)

It is said that every ISO standards should adhere to the clause structure defined in Annex SL. Hence in fact, with this framework ISO itself got a template to build new standards. To address industry specific needs, additional requirements for discipline specific sectors will be added to this generic framework.

Annex SL – Easier for Users

Annex SL provides an identical structure, terms and common concepts for all ISO management system standards. This will ensure consistency among revised and future management system standards. Hence users will find it easier to read and understand the standards.

Annex SL- Easier for Auditors

Auditors will have a generic set of requirements as a guideline to follow irrespective of the discipline. This will make their job much easier.

 Annex SL – Is it not a cost saver..?

Definitely Yes, It saves pretty much time as well as cost.  It helps to have an integrated management system eliminating the duplication efforts and conflicts within the multiple standards.  Conflicts always call for additional resources. If the conflicts are reduced, rework and in turn resources are reduced. Also it is pretty much clear that the maintenance of an integrated management system is always economical compared to the maintenance of multiple separate management systems.

Annex SL – The business focus

When different management streams are integrated, it becomes easier for the senior management to set their vision mission, goals etc. Also the integration helps the management to streamline the entire business operation.

annex SL

In short, Annex SL is a lot more than just a common framework for Management System Standards. It streamlines the creation of new ISO standard as well as provides an option for integrating multiple management system requirements.

Why did ISO 9001-2008 standard changed to ISO 9001-2015 version? What will be your answer in short if such a question is asked by your senior management or corporate people? You can have a detail PowerPoint presentation to explain the so called changes. But in fifteen minutes, how will you make them understand upon the major changes?

Point 1: Integrate with other management system standardsPicture2

When there are many ISO management system standards in an organization, wouldn’t be easier if they are explained and organized under a common umbrella? Wouldn’t be easier if the redundancies among the standards are removed? There have been many complaints heard while an organization is managing its system with a number of ISO standards like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 etc. Even though these standards had many common features, they were organized differently and thus created a great problem for organizations which are trying to implement multiple standards.

The solution introduced is to have a common format across these standards – “Annex- SL“. All ISO standards are updated/being updated based on this high level structure. This helps to have a common language across all ISO standards, thereby increasing the consistency. ISO 9001-2015 will not be the first ISO management standard to employ Annex SL, nor will it is the last.

Annex- SL streamlines the creation of new ISO standard as well as provides the option for integrating multiple management system requirements.

Point 2: Risk based thinking

Picture3Risk management was implicitly addressed in the earlier versions of ISO 9001. The new ISO 9001-2015 standard explicitly addresses the same. Even though preventive and corrective actions were a part of ISO 9001:2008, it got limited to the quality management process. The new ISO 9001-2015 revision focuses on risk management at the global level.

In addition to identification of risks at the organizational level, the new ISO standard expects organizations to address opportunities for improvement based on the risk analysis.

Now when you are going into a detailed presentation you can have a number of slides detailing the below changes

  • Increased involvement of the leadership team
  • Integration of the QMS into organization’s business processes
  • Alignment with strategic direction
  • Documented information instead of ‘documents and records’
  • 10-clause structure
  • Clearer understanding of the organization’s context
  • Etc etc.

NB: All ISO standards are reviewed every five years to check the necessity of a revision, to keep it current and relevant for the marketplace. ISO 9001:2015 will replace ISO 9001:2008. The revised ISO 9001 was published on Wednesday 23rd September 2015. There is a period of 3 years transition period. Certifications to ISO 9001:2008 will no longer be valid after September 2018.

CMMI appraisal method is known as SCAMPI. Result of appraisal may include a rating as demanded by the appraisal sponsor.

  • In a continuous representation
    • Rating is a “capability level profile” (e.g. Requirements Development Process Area is at Capability level 3).
  • In a staged representation
    • Rating is a “maturity level rating” (e.g. maturity level 2).

Maturity level rating is an easier way for organizations to compare themselves with other organizations.

But with capability level rating, how is the comparison possible? If each organization selects the same process areas, Capability level profiles can be used for comparison. But still there are some limits for the same.

Is there a way to convert the generated capability level rating to maturity level rating?

Yes, There is. It is known as Equivalent staging. Equivalent staging enables an organization using the continuous representation to convert a capability level profile to the associated maturity level rating.

How is this translation possible?

Before knowing the translation, let’s see how a capability profile is maintained? It could be a graph of process areas and their associated capability level (achieved as well as targeted), as shown below. (The label ‘1, 2, 3 ‘ in the Y axis represents capability level1, capability level2, capability level 3 respectively).

Combined Target and Achievement Profile

Combined Target and Achievement Profile

In the graph all the Process Areas (PAs) are at Capability Level 1 (CL 1) except the PA, Configuration Management (CM).

There are two types of capability level profiles, as listed below

  • An achievement profile represents the current achieved capability level in selected process areas
  • A target profile represents the capability levels that an organization wishes to achieve.

Maintaining capability level profiles is advisable when using the continuous representation as it aids an organization to plan and track its progress for each selected process area.

Now back to the topic, how equivalent staging is done..?

The most effective way to represent equivalent staging is to provide a sequence of target profiles for each PA, which is equivalent to a maturity level rating (of the staged representation). The result is a target staging that is equivalent to the maturity levels of the staged representation. Below figure shows a summary of the target profiles that must be achieved when using the continuous representation to be equivalent to maturity levels 2 through 5. Each colored area in the capability level columns represents a target profile that is equivalent to a maturity level.

Target Profiles and Equivalent StagingThe following rules summarize equivalent staging:

To achieve maturity level 2, all process areas assigned to maturity level 2 must achieve capability level 2 or 3.

To achieve maturity level 3, all process areas assigned to maturity levels 2 and 3 must achieve capability level 3.

To achieve maturity level 4, all process areas assigned to maturity levels 2, 3, and 4 must achieve capability level 3.

To achieve maturity level 5, all process areas must achieve capability level 3.

In short, Equivalent staging allows the unidirectional translation of assessment results from the continuous to the staged representation. Such staging permits benchmarking of progress among organizations.

To know more on equivalent staging in level 4 and 5, please read How can you achieve CMMI High Maturity in a continuous Representation..?

In CMMI, have you noticed the evolutionary path for Process Areas? Infact CMMI Maturity Levels are defined as evolutionary stages of process improvement.

An evolutionary process is a process whose stages consist of expanding increments of the defined process.

Watts Humphrey’s Capability Maturity Model (CMM) was published in 1988. According to him organizations mature their processes in stages based on solving process problems in a specific order. Humphrey based his approach on the staged evolution of a system of software development practices within an organization, rather than measuring the maturity of each separate development process independently.

CMMs focus on improving processes in an organization. CMMI describes an evolutionary improvement path for the processes from ad hoc, immature processes to disciplined and mature processes with improved quality and effectiveness.

In some Process Areas the evolutionary path is very evident. It is detailed below.

Evolutionary paths are expected to be one of the new features in CMMI Next Generation

Measurement and Analysis starts at Maturity Level 2 and becomes more quantitative and statistical analysis at High Maturity levels. Even at Maturity level 3 Verification process area and Validation process area demand analysis of peer review data (SP 2.3 in VER) and validation results(SP 2.2 in VAL).

Requirements Management at Maturity level 2 talks about ensuring alignment between project work products and requirements through reviews and all (SP 1.5). Verification process area at Maturity Level 3 supports this process.

Risk Management begins at Maturity Level 2 (Process Area- Project planning SP 2.2 and Project Monitoring and Control SP 1.3) and becomes robust at Maturity Level 3.

Project Planning process area talks about planning for knowledge and skills needed to perform the project. This is aided by the Organizational Training process area in Maturity level 3 by which people can perform their roles effectively and efficiently.

Project Monitoring and Control talks about issue analysis at Maturity level 2 which becomes much more elaborated at ML5 in Causal Analysis and Resolution Process Area

The Process Area Organizational Process Focus is treated as a younger brother of the PA -Organizational Performance Management

Integrated Project Management at maturity Level 3 talks about establishing an integrated and defined process that is tailored from the organization’s set of standard processes. And Quantitative Project Management at Maturity level 4 talks about composing a defined process quantitatively to help the project to achieve the project’s quality and process performance objectives.

The below picture illustrates the Evolutionary path of the mentioned Process Areas

Evolutionary PAs

“Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.” –  Edward Berard

Baseline means ‘A Line which is the Base’. The word baseline may refer to surveying, typography, budgeting, pharmacology, Configuration Management, calculations etc.

In an IT industry, baseline mainly implies

  • A Configuration Baseline – A configuration of software, hardware or a process that is established and documented as a point of reference
  • A Process Performance Baseline (PPB) – A datum used as the basis for calculation or comparison

Configuration baseline

As and when a work product is created and ready for review, it should be labeled as ‘ready for review v0.9’. (The version number may change based on the project’s strategy). And at the same time the work product should be available in the configuration tool. Once the review, rework and verification are completed the work product is ready for approval. There should be an identified approving authority for each work product. After the approval, the work product is baselined. (The baseline string can be ‘baselined v1.0’). Whenever a change is triggered in the work product, initially an impact analysis is triggered. Impact analysis helps to understand the change in cost, schedule, competency requirements, affected work products etc. The Change Control Board (as defined in the project plan) should approve the change in order to update the work product. After update, the work product undergoes review, approval and baselining process ( If the change is a minor, the review process can be skipped as defined in the project plan). The baseline string can be ‘baselined v1.1’or ‘baselined v2.0’depending on whether the change is a minor or major. All the change requests should be recorded and tracked for future reference.

If there is no configuration management, many people have to work on a work product that is altering. It creates copy-over problem, which causes versions of files to be lost. The number of uncontrolled copies of files makes it difficult to determine where the latest version really exists or not.

A configuration baseline is the configuration of a service, product or infrastructure that has been formally reviewed and approved, that thereafter can be changed only through formal change mechanisms.

Process Performance Baseline

Project data is recorded in the organizational metric repository. And from the data, performance baselines are created, in most cases the center line and upper and lower control limits from a control chart on that process execution. These baselines are used as a benchmark for comparing actual process performance against expected process performance and are revisited over a defined frequency.

These baselines are used

  • In project estimation process
  • While setting Objectives for the project
  • As inputs to the process performance models

Baseline helps to monitor current project performance and also to improve the accuracy of future estimates.

In short

A Configuration baseline shows the current state of a configuration item while a Process Performance Baseline shows the current performance of a process.