quality assurance

concept development and contract design packages

Donald L. Blount and Associates, Inc. (DLBA) has an established Quality Assurance (QA) Program focusing on performance.  The program was developed and refined from many years of developing naval architecture and marine engineering products, and encompasses deliverable quality control systems with specific provisions for maintaining a superior program for thoroughly examining and monitoring all contract deliverables. The program represents company-wide guiding principles, quality standards, and instructions for providing high-quality performance and reliable products and services on a consistent basis.  Our QA program outlines procedures, guidance, and technical reference for all aspects of technical product development.  The QA program is a formally-documented system that includes check-off sheets, procedures, scheduled and unannounced audits and written instructions, supported with employee training and qualification records, and drawing compliance plans and inspections.  

The following individuals are responsible for the overall quality control review of deliverables under this contract and have the specific responsibility, supervision authority and certifications as outlined below:

Engineering Director - Responsible for overall development and maintenance of the Quality Program by preparing and implementing related Policies and Procedures, and by publishing and maintaining this manual

Technical Director - Responsible for performance and effectiveness of the office quality control program, establishes the local quality assurance organization, implements office metrics requirements to monitor quality conformance, and approves process control procedures

RESPONSIVENESS AND COOPERATION: DLBA’s management clearly understands the goals, mission objectives and needs of the customer. We work as a team with the customer to agree on common goals and communicate expectations to achieve the desired quality outcome. The DLBA office layout includes two conference rooms to host meetings. The main conference room includes a Smart Board (electronic white board) that is utilized in Internet Web Meetings (Go to meetings). During the Net Meetings, participants at the DLBA locations write on an image or drawing, and those written communications are viewed by the other participants at the remote locations. This greatly enhances clear communication of design details with multiple parties at multiple locations at the same time. This network tool also enhances the ability of the participants at remote locations to provide immediate feedback to the discussion.

An urgent requirement Action Item results from information indicating non-conformity within our operating process that affects quality. This information is gathered by way of internal audits, quality records, metrics, service reports, customer complaints, or any other areas indicating process real or perceived problem areas. Any shortfall is collected via our corrective action process. The Engineering and Technical Directors maintain records by which the shortfalls are compiled, analyzed and preventive action initiated and traced when so warranted. This preventive action analyzes and identifies the root cause but more importantly, the application of controls to ensure its effectiveness and elimination of repeated occurrence.

The DLBA management team is responsible for all aspects of communications, coordination, and contract execution. The Program Managers are accustomed to this practice and their existing strategy is to meet weekly to discuss all projects and customers regarding deliverables, workloads, issues and status issues as well as meet twice a week with the entire technical staff to review status of the work. Additionally, our company wide workload status is maintained on our secure DLBA server database such that authorized Project Managers and senior DLBA staff are able to check progress and determine accurate and timely status. Additional meetings, as required, are conducted to ensure all work is completed on time and with-in budget without delays or disruptions. On major programs, DLBA institutes a wall display of drawings and pre-deliverables to ensure full visibility of design at levels from upper management to work staff. This posted information provides status and creates a venue to post questions and annotations of the full project as it matures and increases timely communication with the customer.

PROBLEM RESOLUTION: Potential problem areas as identified by customer comment, in-house audit, meeting discussion or design activity, are given immediate attention for resolution. Resolutions include individual training and monthly corporate training on the engineering fundamentals of business practice. Our Project Managers are responsible for identifying and coordinating required personnel and required engineering tools necessary to support specific tasking r requirements and in addressing and resolving problems in a timely and professional manner to achieve desirable outcomes. Our Project Managers review each task order Statement of Work (SOW) to determine the level and mix of technical expertise necessary to support all deliverable and schedule requirements. Project Managers develop comprehensive task order Plans of Actions and Milestones (POA&Ms) and identify and assemble task solution teams. Project Managers utilize Microsoft Project to manage all task projects. DLBA customizes MS Project tracking and reporting to improve the identification and communication of project status. DLBA has developed and used the formally documented Schedule Development Guidelines in order to provide Project Managers with the tools to successfully manage projects, facilitate communications, and to enhance coordination across DLBA and the aligned team’s technical resources.

DLBA utilizes a combination of internal review procedures outlined below to provide for the prevention and ready detection of discrepancies and errors, and for timely corrective action.

Prevention Measures: Project Managers play a key role in prevention measures, which include: Associate technical orientation of quality control processes and procedures, Task Order kick-off meetings, Assigning properly skilled and qualified personnel; Assuring proper technical management oversight; and, Design process integration. Each employee is not only trained in quality issues, but is empowered to improve quality and is equipped with the tools and data necessary to positively impact our performance.

Detection Measures: In order to detect errors and discrepancies precipitated by the inherent complexity of the design and drafting process, DLBA uses a number of product inspections, including self-inspections, in-process reviews, technical checks and quality assurance reviews.

Precluding Recurrences: DLBA applies lessons-learned, best practices and QA awareness training to preclude common error recurrence through regular discipline based meetings.

Risk avoidance is very important in our contract execution and therefore receives great emphasis and attention. DLBA realizes that the requirement for mitigating risk exists at the contract, Task Order levels, and has significant importance to schedule and cost efficiencies.

DLBA understands that potential risks exist in the execution of each Task Order relative to the quality and timely completion of all Task Order (TO) deliverables within budget limitations. These risks can be associated with overall Program Risks, Ship/Mission Schedules, third-party shipyards/ship repairers, safety, and costs. To this end, DLBA places a major focus on identifying and mitigating such risks. This focus first begins with the acknowledgement of these potential risks by senior management and the need to identify, plan for, and prevent, where possible. Specific mitigation efforts will include an essential upfront analysis and understating of Task Order requirements, proper TO planning, accurate estimating, the assignment of the proper technical expertise, communications protocol, continuous management oversight and the implementation of an effective quality program with provisions for the detection and prevention of errors and the elimination of poor quality inaccurate deliverables. These continual and consistent actions will serve to mitigate TO risk. DLBA is confident in our ability to effectively manage the SeaPort-e tasks in a time and cost effective manner.