Monday, August 14, 2006

Type of Documents in a Process

The Quality Management System consists of the following types of artifacts

  1. Process Document
  2. Forms and Templates
  3. Guidelines
  4. Databases
  5. Checklists

In a sentence the interaction between the documents is as follows "The affected individuals implement the Process Document, refer to the Guidelines and Databases, complete the forms and templates and verify the process compliance with the checklists to accomplish the process."

Process Document

The process document is the main overriding document that contains the roles and responsibilities of the affected parties, the tools needed to inplement the process, the procedure in which the process has to be performed the inputs and outputs. This document is the driving document that details the interaction between the various stake holders to convert the inputs into the outputs in an optimal maner. The process document should be in the form of a set of steps which when followed will accomplish the goals of the process.

Forms and Templates

These are documents that need to be completed in accordance with the process. These documents are used to standardise the format in which information is gathered from the process. This standardization is necessary to help analyse the data and for the data to be consistently understood and resued across projects.

Guidelines

The guidelines document explains how a process has to be implemented. This document gives examples, sample text and alternative solutions that can be used to implement the process. The implementation of the content of the guidelines document is optional where as the implementation of the process document is mandatory. The guidelines document provides explanations to the process defined in the process document. It is not necessary to have a guidelines document for every process document. This document is only needed if it is felt that there is additional information that is needed to implement the process in an affective manner without making the process document too specific.

Databases

Databases are repositories of information as to how the process has been implemented by past and current projects in the organization. These databases contain completed forms and templates, best practices used, lessons learnt, trends and predictions and all data that is collected from the project. This information is used as reference to find the most effective solution to implement the process. What one needs to understand is that the process only tells you "what" needs to be done but does not tell you "how" it is to be done. The how needs to be worked out by the affected individuals that are implementing the process and the Databases and Guidelines help the affected individuals to choose the most affective "how" by using some of the experiences from other projects which is contained in the databses.

Checklists

Checklists are used to ensure that the process is being implemented in the manner in which it is supposed to be implemented. Checklists can be used by members within the affected individuals to ensure that they are not missing any of the process steps and can also be used by individuals outside the project to verify that the process has been adhered to.

Example

Let us take an example process and see what are the documents that would be needed. Let us say that we want a process for Risk Management. The documents in the QMS that would be needed are

Process Document : Risk Management Process
Forms and Templates : Risk Log
Guidelines : Risk Identification Guidelines
Databases : Risk Database
Checklists : Risk Management Checklist

Notes

  1. None of these documents are mandatory. One can have just one process document containing all of the information or one can have a 100 documents detailing every single aspect of the process. Choosing the number of documents to have is a personal choice. What one needs to ensure is that the process is adequately explained so that it can be affectively implemented.
  2. Forms and Templates ease a lot of the work to be done as it removes the question "What do I write for this ?" or "Do i have to collect this ?" and so on so try and templatise most of the information that needs to be collected.

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