Archive for April, 2015

Configuration Management: Deviations and Change Requests

Posted on: April 30th, 2015 by admin No Comments

by Jon M. Quigley and Kim L. Robertson

Words have specific meanings across all industries sectors which allow us to decode what is said by another and come to some understanding. This is a very important activity, as without effective communication not much will happen in a collaborative setting.



Waiver: After it is manufactured it is found that the product does not conform to specifications or requirements. A waiver is sought for a limited number of production units to deviate from the requirements until either the design can be corrected or the requirement changed. Request for waivers originate from the supplying organization. Requests may have to be flowed to the customer if they vary from the customer requirements. The temporary relaxing of requirements for a specific number of units generally is accompanied by a reduction in unit price for those items.

Deviation: Before a part is manufactured it is found that the product does not conform to specifications or requirements. A deviation is sought for a limited number of production units to deviate from the requirements until either the design can be corrected or the requirement changed  Request for deviations originate from the supplying organization. The temporary relaxing of requirements for a specific number of units generally is accompanied by a reduction in unit price for those items.

Variences: The lumping together of Waivers and Deviations by ISO and other standards.

Engineering Change Request (ECR): is the formal mechanism used internally for making alterations to the product design. ECRs go through some process of review to either accept or reject the proposed change.

Request for Change (RFC) aka Request for change Proposal (RFP): A request flowed from a customer to the vendor. Deviations, Waivers and variances may indicate the need for a change request as recurring relaxing of requirements are not allowed.  RFCs and RFPs result in a change proposal that goes back to the customer for approval. Sub-tier vendors may be required to submit a proposal that is incorporated in the prime vendor’s proposal to the customer.

These are important and very different things and have different process associated with them.

Prototype Parts

Prototype Parts

We start with the definition, to lay the groundwork for a work for a recently observed situation.  Drawings and requirements specifications are released and sent to a vendor.  A prototype part is developed and will be shipped to the customer for test, inspections and evaluations.  The notes from those activities may impact the final product specifications and subsequent deliveries from the vendor.  However the lead time, the time it takes the supplier to make the part and ship to the customer, is 10 weeks.  Requirements issues that are found in this space of 10 weeks will need to be handled, but how?

The next Blog will answer that question.

Project Gates Reviews are NOT just Administrative

Posted on: April 29th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Gates in Project Management



In conventional project management, also referred to as staged gate methodology, we will find gates. Each gate provides a way point or check point upon which subsequent work will build. Each gate has a targeted expected set of objectives to reach and to answer before moving on to subsequent work.  Each subsequent phase of the work is dependent upon the previous gate outcomes. For example, before we select a concept to develop, we should know the customer requirements.  If our organization is for profit, we would want to know if the endeavor furthers the organization’s goals.  The project and product will grow from the idea and concepts to a selected solution capable of being produced, delivered and will add to the company’s bottom line.  Gates are review points for the just completed project phase, did we do what was desired, as well as a forward look is there still a reason for this project, will it be profitable?

We provide an example of gates below:

  1. Voice of Customer
  2. Concept
  3. Development
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Launch
  6. Closure

If you are in the automotive industry, you may recognize the following from the AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning)[1]:

  1. Planning
  2. Product design and development
  3. Process design and development
  4. Product and process validation
  5. Production
  6. Feedback and corrective actions (across all phases)

 Gates and Objectives

In this example, the first phase we are gathering the customer needs, we will have activities associated with this objective and we will have objective measurements to assert we have met this objective.  The project will balance these customer needs against the ability for the organization to profit from the endeavor.  This phase may include activities such as customer clinics, interviews or market studies.

Gates as a Review

This review considers the objectives that were intended to be achieved in the phase, with the data and metrics from the phase to ascertain if the objective of the phase was indeed met.  The board will use that information to prognosticate ability of the entire project to meet the overall objective. It helps us understand whether the next phase of the project should be funded.  The results will answer questions such as:

  1. Did we build a base (in this phase) upon which the next set of activities of the project can be successful?
  2. Should the project continue on to the next phase?
  3. Should the project scope remain the same?
  4. Should the project be terminated because of market situation?

The gate review is performed by the adjudicating body through an evaluation of the expected results and individual items delivered compared to the actual – measurements and data.

Gates are not Solely Administrative

This is not just, or at least it should not be just an administrative action or sanctioning. There should be some review of the evidence. That may also include occasionally challenging the veracity of the evidence, but should always involve an actively engaged review.  Boiling this down to a merely administrative sanctioning, absolves the decision makers of their responsibilities to the corporation via oversight.  Moreover, this reduces the ability for an objective evidence based evaluation and distills the work down to a check list.  I bet this is one of the reasons project go through gates, when they perhaps should not.  Experience suggests it is not uncommon to move through a gate (all is well mentality) and on the other side we find key elements for the next phase missing or errant.  Sometimes it is only green on the surface.

Not very green at all!

Not very green at all!



[1] Automotive Industry Action Group, Advanced Product Quality Planning and Control Plan (APQP), (Southfield, Michigan, AIAG 1995) p. 5

Risk Management Training

Posted on: April 24th, 2015 by admin No Comments


Value Transformation training on Project Risk Management from a product development perspective, and starting with the scope and objective.


Loop Learning Example of Personal Behavior

Posted on: April 15th, 2015 by admin No Comments

By Shawn P. Quigley

Leadership Equation

From our previous discussion you may remember the leadership equation: B= f {(Exp3) (A2) (DL) (T)} { f (P2)(GB+GTX)(WC)}. Which was derived from Lewin’s equation of B=f (P,E), (Lewin, 1936). Since we have discussed all of these concepts before it is time to work toward understanding their interrelations.

Personal Behavior

The most logical starting point is personnel behavior (Attitude) a perspective with a range  of possibilities.  From individual to individual this may very, but everybody has had to  start a task or job at sometime. This starting attitude has some  basis on being unsure of position and little to no perception of how things are done within the organization. Recall the situational leadership curve, from that we can surmise that most individuals start with a positive attitude.

Attitude has a big impact.

Attitude has a big impact.



Usually during the introduction phase to a new job or task communication is at its’ highest. This usual high level of communication has an effect on the perception the individual has of their situation.  The manner and message being communicated will determine what effect it has on perception. Then the perception of the situation will affect the type of experience the individual gains from the task. This brings us right back to the behavior/attitude of the individual. As the number of good or not so good experiences buildup over time they start feeding back on perception. We all refer to this as; been there done that or that is what we always do in these situations.

Constant Communication

Constant and Effective Communication

This internal feedback of experience to perception has a significant impact for negative experiences and is therefore hard to overcome after just a short period of time.


Lewin, K. (1936). Principles of Topological Psychoogy. In K. Lewin, Principles of topological psychoogy. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Imaginary Numbers?

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by admin 1 Comment

Imaginary Numbers = Lies

Got you!  I bet you were thinking this was going to be a complicated math post. It is not, but it is about metrics.  Companies often employ measurement (at least they should) to determine the state of a variety of endeavors that are moving through the organization. For example, a project will set up measurements of performance to provide mechanism for making a variety of decisions.  The same is true for manufacturing; measurements are taken to allow for monitor for non conformance and the application of control mechanisms in the event.

Measurements are made for a reason.

Measurements are made for a reason.


Better look good!

The problem comes when the numbers are fabricated.  We have written on this topic a few times, and there is a reason.  It seems this is a fairly common practice, make things look good via measurement doctoring, rather than correct the issues that produce the measurements you do not like!  It seems as though it is more important how things appear, than the presentment of the actual situation.  North Carolina state motto, “esse quam videri” which translated means “to be, rather than to seem”; would never apply.  I am not sure if this is a deception intended to be perpetuity, or if this is the face out to the executive, project gate reviewing body, to the citizenry (by both political parties) or to the shareholders while silently working to correct in the background.  However, this misrepresentation or a deliberately errant characterization the state is an irresponsible, unethical and sometimes an illegal act.

Lies Lies Lies

Ultimately, these lies or “imaginary” numbers that seem to make the organization look good for now, will be its own undoing in the future.  This seemingly cancerous disease is everywhere, politics, personal life and business.  To improve the situation requires recognition and elimination of these lying practices; the sooner the restoration of trust the sooner actual improvements.

Pragmatic Strikes Again, via Configuration Management!

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by admin 2 Comments

By: Kim L. Robertson and Jon M. Quigley

Pragmatic and Agile

Sometime back, I wrote a brief rant on the use of the word pragmatic. I had seen the word hijacked by executives to justify what could be characterized as a reckless product launch. Reduce or minimize testing, just get the product to market, and hope for the best.  Recently, I had the chance to see another example of using the word to justify risky behavior, by the Agile approach to software development. Instead of establishing a test program with minimal controls over the test design and the item being tested to validate a test safe scenario the desire was to eliminate configuration management fundamentals.

Configuration Management Down Stream

Configuration management is the management tool internationally accepted as a key element of efficient and effective product development, test and manufacturing.  Configuration Management is all around us. Many people perform elements of it without naming it. It is sized to the development effort and applied with ever increasing rigor as product safety, reliability and field support needs increase.

In Reality…

A proposal to eliminate configuration management due to a perceived encumbrance on the agile team is not a pragmatic approach. Pragmatic is defined as dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories.  Pragmatism in an agile development environment would be to clearly keep the end goal in sight and then tailor not only the application of Configuration Management activities but all other management tools appropriate to the work being performed. It is not pragmatic to eliminate tools proved to reduce cost, schedule and positively affect the quality of the end product.

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