Process Risk Management Story – let us skip a step

Every time we make a decision, we reduce the probability of some risks but may increase the probability of other risks. Consider where the following story may fit into our discussion.

We have a project that should have, in fact, started months ago to meet the desired production introduction date.  Unfortunately, that did not happen so we are now scrambling to make the desired introduction date.  To make the proposed delivery date, we must find a way to meet the project objectives in a shorter time.  We can do this by either reducing scope or reducing quality securing activities associated with the project.  Our prototype part development sequence is in fact a risk reducing activity (see our previous post

The project manager decides the way to make the schedule work is to eliminate the first level of prototype parts.  Eliminating this step reduces the time to make corrections to faults found during the development work.  We are now … Continue reading

Risk Management and Rose Colored Glasses

There are times when the project manager will be subjected to the long list of potential risks brought to them by their team.  Handling these issues rather than summarily dismissing the item being brought to their attention as input from a hypercritical or doom-centric team member is important for project success and team morale.  If we consistently ignore team members that bring these potential problems to us while they are still potential catastrophes  we will find that the team member will be less informative with risks they see in the course of the project execution.

What we really want to see is cooperation from team members—they present us with risks they have discerned after some modest filtering to ensure we won’t be overcome by panicky noise. In all cases, we want to thank our responsible team member and make it clear that we are adding their discovery to our list of items to be managed. We may even ask them for … Continue reading

Risk Auditing

We perform risk audits on projects to ascertain whether we are deviating from the desired budget, schedule, and quality levels we specified at the start of the project. At the 50,000 foot level, risk auditing looks like the following:

Define the problem Choose an audit team leader Choose an audit team or let the leader choose Establish a rubric for scoring the quality of the audit Accumulate evidence, facts, information Assess evidence, facts, information Present a report

We should schedule our audits at least as frequently as major milestone and more often if we are having problems with the project. The audit team must be objective assessors of project or program issues. We recommend hiring an external auditor only if objectivity is likely to be compromised.

The rubric will primarily cover the triad of delivery, budget, and quality with some additional analyses for known historical issues; for example, we might look at adherence to the statement of work (SOW). Resource … Continue reading

Qualitative versus Quantitative Risk Analysis

A qualitative analysis will generally involve a subjective level of assessment. The classic Kastle-Meyer test uses phenolphthalein to check for blood—it is quick and cheap and eliminating expensive and specious DNA testing save times and money. Quantitative analysis, as the name implies, uses measurements to assess the topic of concern. Both have their place in our toolboxes.

Qualitative risk analysis can be as simple as Johari window with two axes used to provide four categories; for example, the famous sequence of “not urgent—not important,” “urgent—not important,” “not urgent—important,” and “urgent—important.” A more sophisticated approach might assign numerical values in an attempt to scale the level of risk as occurs when we do a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), which often parades itself as quantitative but is really largely qualitative. We are not implying that qualitative approaches are somehow less than quantitative approaches—they have the benefit of being quick and inexpensive and, if they are enough, they are all we … Continue reading

PPAP is the Quality System

By Wally Stegall and Jon M. Quigley

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has developed the Production PART Approval Process (PPAP) standard as part of advanced product quality planning (APQP).

The PPAP documentation; is thought by many as just a collection of documents and sign-off to allow a supplier to start manufacturing. That is not the case. The PPAP documents provide a demonstration of diligence from the respective areas of product development.  These documents provide evidence that Engineering, Product Evaluation (test), Production and Quality have performed necessary actions to secure the product.  The specific documents included are:


Part submission warrant Design records and drawings Engineering change documents Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis (DFMEA) Process flow diagram Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PMEA) Dimensional results Material/performance test results Initial process study Measurement system assessment (MSA) studies Qualified laboratory documentation Prelaunch control plan Appearance approval report Process control plan Bulk material checklist Product sample Checking aids (Gauge R&R) Master sample Customer … Continue reading

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