Tuesday, 31 July 2007 05:08

Create Successful Projects: Use Verification and Validation Plans

Written by Rosemary Hossenlopp
What? You need to complete a verification and validation (V&V) plan for the new project that you just have been assigned too? And it’s due at 5pm today! Business analysts need softball gloves to protect their fingers from being broken when assignments are thrown at them. How do you catch the assignment, and then toss the V&V plan back ….. with a clean toss…..to your project manager?

A critical business analyst skill is creating a V&V plan. This plan provides stakeholders:

  • Verification clarification: An understanding of how the project team will correctly complete the work.
  • Validation confirmation: Deliverables needed to ensure that the correct solution will be delivered to the customers

V&V plans are not just about testing. They review all the deliverables from a project; both how to test the product but also how to ensure that the process changes are appropriately introduced into the user environment. Repeatably delivering high-quality results to your clients also means creating V&V plans for projects or portions of your projects that involve process initiatives.

A focus on testing will get you standard project results. A focus on both processes and product will get you outstanding project results. So how do you address both processes and product in your V&V plans? First, let’s review what is in a product-focused V&V plan.

Product Verification and Validation Plan Elements

High-quality V&V plans for product-focused projects can cover the following elements:

Table 1.

V&V Plan Element

Description

Tools, Approaches and Methodology

Defines the projects’ V&V life cycle deliverables.

Change Management Plan e.g., Change Control

Manages changes to key project documents and artifacts. Provides a framework to evaluate proposed changes for impacts. Ensures that products, services, or results change only after approval of appropriate parties. Provides a formal process for coordination, and communication on project changes.

Configuration management plan

Manages processes and libraries for version control of configuration item (CI) identification, control, or auditing.

Data migration plan

Creates processes and deliverables for identifying and creating data models and migration plans.

Traceability Process

Manages processes and tools for tracing, and managing requirements throughout the project life. Also known as allocation.

Security Plan

Manages processes and audits that ensure that solutions enforce policies and protect organizational assets from potential threats.

Test Plan

Defines the approach, resources, and schedule for all testing deliverables.

User Acceptance Test (UAT)

Manages the processes, and documents functionality required for delivery to the customer. Provides an acceptance criterion for determining sufficient product quality.

Transition Plan

Defines roles, processes and deliverables needed to transfer solution from a development environment to a contract e.g., Operations and Maintenance (O&M) vendor, or internal production environment.

Support Plan

Provides product documentation. Defines roles, processes and deliverables needed for customer FAQ’s or repair support.

Installation Plan

Defines roles, processes and deliverables for site installation of the solution.

Reviews

Peer inspections, customer and management reviews that progressively look at project deliverables, work products, or prototypes to determine whether project should continue or whether work products require rework.

In addition, V&V plans may address specific deliverables and milestones for each life cycle phase; requirements, design, construction and test, delivery, and operations. Together, these elements ensure that the product is being built correctly and that the customer will be satisfied with the product results.

Next, create V&V plans for business process improvement initiatives that are part of your project scope.

Process Verification and Validation Plan Elements

V&V plans for business process improvement initiatives generally address the following elements.

Table 2

V&V Plan Element

Description

Tools, Approaches and Methodology

Defines the initiatives’ V&V life cycle deliverables.

Change Management Plan e.g., Change Control

 

See table 1.

Configuration Management Plan

Manages processes for document version control.

Change Management Plan e.g., business impact on users

Documented plan to overcome resistance to the proposed solution changes in the stakeholder environment.

Reviews

See table 1.

In addition, these plans may address specific deliverables and milestones for each life cycle phase; Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify. Creating plans for all these elements ensure that you will throw the ball back to your project manager in the correct direction.

This list of elements may seem overwhelming, especially if your V&V plan is due in only several hours. Begin small. Iteratively develop standards for your organization. You can start documenting process in the area of most project risk, or the area that seems to be the most messy. Document lessons learned and share with your peers the best practices. You are helping others who follow your footsteps to better catch the balls thrown at them.

So Who Leads Creating The Product-Focused V&V Plan?

Many people are involved in ensuring that the project satisfies the needs for which it was launched. Business analysts are responsible for the V&V plan when there is a significant impact on the Business Requirements Document (BRD.)

There are also two other factors that guide which role will take the lead in creating the V&V Plan. See Figure 1.

  • Factor One: Is the project is product or process focused? Are you working on a tangible product or one that is predominately a business process change?
  • Factor Two: What is the project complexity? Higher complexity projects are those with solutions not fully known at the time of the project initiation. They will involve technical analysis, stakeholder management, political support assessment, funding and schedule challenges that are above average in nature.

The following roles typically support the business analyst in creating the V&V plan when the project is product-focused and has low complexity.

  • Test Lead
  • Subject Matter Expert

The following roles may own significant portions of the V&V plan if the project is product focused and of high complexity.

  • Business Analyst
  • Test Lead
  • Development Lead
  • Engineering Services Manager
  • Subject Matter Expert

So Who Creates The Process-Focused V&V Plan?

The same factors that guide product-oriented projects role participation also drive a process-focused project. They are project type and complexity. See Figure 1. Business process engineering projects require significant stakeholder expectation management.

The following role typically supports the business analyst in creating the V&V plan when the project is process-focused and has low complexity.

  • Subject Matter Expert

The following roles may own significant portions of the V&V plan if the project is process-focused and of high complexity.

  • Business Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Six-Sigma Consultant
  • Subject Matter Expert

Figure 1. Required V&V Plan Roles

Tailoring your V&V plan to project characteristics is required. Your organization requires V&V plans for both business process improvement initiatives and product-focused projects. Using a generic template is like asking a left-handed person to use a right-handed baseball glove. The glove won’t fit well and the project results suffer.

Copyright 2007 – All rights Reserved.

is a Silicon Valley based project professional and delivers project success on government and commercial IT projects. She can be contacted at Rosemary@PMPerspectives.com.

 

 


Rosemary Hossenlopp, PMP, MBA
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