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Develop a quality assurance plan as part of the project plan to ensure that outputs are fit for purpose and comply with relevant standards and best practice.

Project planning: Quality Assurance plan

Develop a quality assurance plan as part of the project plan to ensure that outputs are fit for purpose and comply with relevant standards and best practice.

What ‘quality’ actually means will depend on the outputs the project is creating, but is generally related to:

  • Fitness for purpose ( ‘does what it says on the tin’) Jisc expects you to perform quality planning to ensure that project outputs meet quality expectations
  • Adherence to relevant standards and specifications (e.g. to ensure interoperability and accessibility)
  • Use of best practice methods and techniques for development

‘Fitness for purpose’ will vary with the project output. For example, if you are developing software to enable users to perform a task, the software should enable them to perform it. However, it can also relate to how well it allows them to perform a task and factors like usability. If you’re developing a pilot to demonstrate feasibility, it should obviously demonstrate feasibility, but scalability and reliability might be other factors to consider in fitness for purpose.

Why quality and quality planning are important:

  • Each output contributes to the success of the programme. 
  • Jisc shares development outputs with the community. They need to be fit for purpose and of value to the community
  • Integration and interoperability are increasingly important in ICT. Outputs need to meet agreed standards so they work together seamlessly
  • Jisc development is publicly funded and must provide value for money
  • Jisc projects should provide a lasting benefit to the community and quality is important for sustainability

Quality planning

A quality planning process has been developed to improve and assure the quality of project outputs

  1. Quality expectations  The programme defines the standards and level of quality expected from the project in the funding call
  2. Acceptance criteria  The programme defines acceptance criteria for major project outputs based upon the quality expectations set in the funding call
  3. Quality plan  The project develops a quality assurance plan showing how it will achieve the quality expected and the quality assurance processes it will put in place.
  4. Implementation  During the project, the outputs are developed in line with the quality plan.
  5. Acceptance of outputs  The project submits its outputs, supported by evidence that they meet the quality expectations. Outputs are assessed against the acceptance criteria and accepted (or rejected) by the programme.

Quality expectations The programme manager will discuss quality expectations for specific types of outputs with you ; they will relate to fitness for purpose and compliance with agreed standards and best practice.

Acceptance criteria will relate to what you must do to demonstrate that the expected quality has been achieved. For example, the programme manager might ask for a set of interoperability test results to demonstrate that interoperability standards have been adhered to, or they might ask for a report from an external evaluator that assesses fitness for purpose.

Project QA plan

The project plan template includes a table in section 3.2 to develop the quality assurance plan. As Jisc innovation programmes result in a wide range of outputs, the programme manager may adapt the template to suit the type of outputs being developed.

Whatever the outputs, the idea is to think through how you will achieve the quality envisaged. This will involve:

  • quality assurance – putting in place the policies, practices, and procedures for achieving best practice and complying with standards 
  • quality control - checking that you’ve done what you expected to do (e.g. by testing). 

Think through the methods you need to put in place, the testing you must do, and the evidence that will demonstrate you’ve achieved the quality envisaged.  

QA methods

Define the quality assurance methods/techniques that will be used or reference established ones. For example, what processes will you put in place to ensure that software complies with Jisc’s open source policy, the best practice outlined in Section X, and relevant standards.

Evidence of compliance

Indicate the evidence that will demonstrate that you have achieved the quality envisaged. For example, this may involve test results, benchmarking, or successful completion of external peer review.

Quality responsibilities

For example, if you’re developing software, quality responsibilities might be:

  • Project Manager  Change control, quality of project documentation
  • Lead programmer  System testing quality, configuration management
  • Programmer  Unit testing quality
  • Academic advisor  Usability quality.

Quality control tools

You are encouraged to use compliance testing tools wherever appropriate

Effective tools are a valuable way of easing the construction and maintenance of standards compliant applications and data. They exist in many areas including HTML compliance, metadata maintenance, accessibility testing and conformance to SCORM standards, and viewing XML schemas. The UKOLN and CETIS websites have numerous references and UKOLN use checking tools on many of their published pages.

You are encouraged to select appropriate tools to assist with software testing and quality control. These might include tools for testing functionality, performance, usability, compliance with standards, coding, etc. The programme manager can advise.

Further resources