Quality Assurance (QA) Support

Our ISO-9001:2008-certified Quality Management System (QMS) contains all classic elements of an integrated approach to quality assurance, including inspections, root-cause analyses, and corrective action systems described in written procedures. We apply the QMS to build in quality elements during planning stages even before the program officially begins. We construct our programs to have an independent Quality Control (QC) organization as part of the overall Program Management Office (PMO) to manage all forms of quality at every level of the operation and to interface with the Government Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) quality representative directly, outside the purview of in-house management.

We conduct QC as a repeatable process continuously underway throughout development and production, which is essential to ensure style, format, and technical accuracy and adequacy requirements are met. During transition, as incumbent personnel transfer into our team, QC will be particularly active. Initial training will include provision of accurate verbal and written instructions and ongoing technical and editorial evaluation of progress. As the team works together, we will establish high requirements for excellence to ensure we meet and maintain customer performance. Within 8 business days after task award, we will submit a program QC Plan, which will take advantage of our Corporate, ISO 9001:2008 processes already established. The plan will provide a Corrective Action Report (CAR)/Complaint Contractor Response Time and will address performance of root cause analyses that identify the cause of an issue, corrective and preventive actions, and procedures for stopping recurrence of defects or stopping them from being released into the environment or the customer. Our plans prevent defective products from being released to the next stage of development without special review and authorization. To identify errors early, we encourage personnel to follow authorized processes and to monitor their own work in addition to having lead-level and QC-level inspections. We conduct random sampling of items produced to search for any errors or issues. In the rare event that a process fails, catching the problem early prevents rework and error replication.

QC formally plans QC inspections and documents these plans. The QC/ESH manager will collect and provide documentation in various forms, such as QC instructions and checklists incorporated into work instructions. These plans may include the following types of provisions:

  • Stages – QC determines and documents appropriate stages in production and service provision to perform a quality control inspection.
  • Sample size – QC determines how much or how many items are inspected. If only a sample is inspected, Management determines how the sample is selected.
  • Frequency – QC determines when or how often QC inspections are performed.
  • Inspector – Though self-inspections are useful in many cases, formal inspections require that QC inspectors cannot inspect their own work.

As QC inspections are conducted, managers work to ascertain that QC inspections have been carried out according to plan. If a product is found that fails to conform to requirements, local managers prevent release to the next process stage. QC maintains records of inspection results and the name of the person authorizing release of an item. A checklist helps inspector’s track adherence to processes. Inspection results are summarized and analyzed metrically.

CTI controls nonconforming products and services to prevent them from being used unintentionally or from undergoing further processing. We create and maintain records to serve as the basis for improving process effectiveness and efficiency. Nonconforming products and services are defined as products and services that differ from requirements or expectations. Nonconformance can be detected in several ways, such as the following:

  • Conducting 100% inspections with monthly reports sent to the Customer
  • Random monitoring
  • QC inspections in which products and services fail to pass scheduled inspections
  • By chance when products or services were accidentally found to be nonconforming
  • Products and services that were otherwise found to be not conforming to requirements

Response to Nonconformances. When QC or other parties discover and identify a product or service as nonconforming, we first stop or prevent the item’s release to the next stage in the process, unless release is otherwise approved by a relevant authority and, where applicable, by the Customer. These nonconforming items are then segregated from other products or services. Next, we handle nonconformance in one of the following ways:

  • Correction – Discrepancies are corrected, and a report is submitted within 10 business days with no additional cost or fee. After nonconforming products or services undergo correction, they must be re-inspected before release back into the environment.
  • We provide a get-well plan and revised schedule within 20 business days if the schedule is not within 10% with no additional cost or fee.
  • We complete recovery and make the product or service functional within 12 hours.
  • Authorization – Relevant management and, where applicable, the customer may authorize use, release, or acceptance. Customer authorizations are documented and kept on file.
  • Use for a Different Application – Management may decide to use the nonconforming product/service for a different application.

Where appropriate, local management establishes written instructions for dealing with nonconforming products or services that may have a significant effect on the customer or our company. If we detect the nonconformity after delivery or after use has started, we take action appropriate for the potential effects of the nonconformity.

Records of the nature of nonconformities and their disposition, including quality concessions, are maintained to serve as data for root-cause analysis and process improvement and for training. Management may also consider recording information on those nonconformities corrected in the normal course of work, since this sort of data offers valuable information for improving process effectiveness and efficiency.

Customer Satisfaction Measurement and Analysis. CTI measures and analyzes customer satisfaction and considers it a vital tool for understanding how the customer perceives our performance in addition to seeing measurements and metrics. We collect customer satisfaction measurements and coordinate them carefully as a team with the assistance of senior management. The team determines methods and instructions for obtaining customer satisfaction data and submits a formal plan for soliciting information and communicating results. Such a plan generally provides three key areas for measuring customer satisfaction: conformity to customer requirements, meeting needs and expectations, and price. Data is collected in all three of these areas. Customer complaints are taken very seriously. When a customer complains, we perform the following actions:

  • Record the Complaint – All customer complaints are recorded by the person who receives the complaint (that is, if the complaint did not come in writing).
  • Bring the Issue to the Attention of Management – Affected managers receive the data. Complaints the executive team receives are forwarded to affected division leaders who bring them to the attention of appropriate management.
  • Evaluate the Complaint – We evaluate customer complaints to identify their root causes and corrective action is planned and conducted as required.
  • Inform the Customer – Information sharing and communication are significant contributors to customer satisfaction. We strive to keep the customer informed of any actions arising from a complaint. Solving customers’ problems and reporting the resolution to the customer increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Various tools and methods of gathering customer satisfaction data may be used to interact with the customer. Examples include the following:

  • Informal meetings and entertainment
  • Dealer reports
  • In-depth interviews
  • Subcontracted collection and analysis of data
  • Out-bound telephone interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Lost business analysis
  • Sector and industry studies
  • Compliments
  • Questionnaires and surveys (e.g., mail, Web-based forms)
  • Warranty claims

Audit Program. The Site Operation Audit and Safety Manager in Groton will plan our annual ISO 9001 audit programs, assemble an audit team, and provide auditors with resources to conduct an audit program. This manager ensures auditors are qualified and all ISO 9001 auditors are certified internal auditors or lead auditors.