AER has defined a clear and concise Quality Assurance policy that has been developed internally by and for its employees:
AER is a science-based knowledge company. We continuously improve and innovate tools and methodologies to explore, manage, and exploit earth system and space observations. We provide timely and accurate customized data, modeling, and consulting services that support environmentally informed decision-making and best practices in government and in business. It is our policy that we provide these services and products to standards of quality that meet or exceed the requirements of our customers by monitoring and controlling these services in order to provide continuous improvement.
Quality procedures and requirements for all phases of project management and execution, including software development processes, have been established. AER Software Quality Assurance (SQA) processes are extensible and based on the overall scope of any software development project. Standard processes are defined for the entire software development process (requirements, design, coding, testing) and include peer reviews, configuration management, revision control, task tracking, defect management, and effective test/build/release auditing. These procedures and requirements are documented via specific quality operating procedures (QOPs) that are individually version controlled.
Project lifecycle supervision and review is the responsibility of assigned project personnel, technical reviewers (external to the project but internal to AER), and by executive management (divisional VPs through CEO depending on criticality). The QMS itself is managed by a dedicated QMS Manager reporting to the President and CEO. Any variation can only be authorized by the President, or any personnel authorized by the President, in line with current written document change procedures. Bidding authorization requires approvals by technical reviewers, supervisors and either a Division Vice President or the President and CEO depending upon project size and complexity.
AER has established and maintains documented procedures to ensure that subcontractor services (or products purchased) conform to specified requirements. Subcontractors are evaluated to: (a) select suppliers and subcontractors based on their ability to meet purchase requirements including quality system and quality assurance requirements, (b) define the type and extent of control exercised over the suppliers and subcontractors, and (c) establish and maintain records of acceptable suppliers/subcontractors performance. Engagement of consultant or sub-contractor services is not made without thorough review.
Extensive procedures are maintained to identify and mitigate potential problem areas. AER monitors customer satisfaction by a quantitative analysis of both solicited and unsolicited feedback. All projects are required to solicit feedback. Results of the analysis are reported to senior management. Additionally, the Executive Session monitors regular project reports and customer complaints to ensure conformity to product requirements and opportunities for preventive action. Internal quality audits verify whether quality activities, and related results, comply with plans and procedures and to determine the effectiveness of the quality system. The audits are scheduled on the basis of the status and importance of the activity to be audited and are carried out by personnel independent of those having direct responsibility for the activity being audited. The results of the audits are recorded and brought to the attention of the personnel having responsibility in the area audited. The management personnel responsible for the area are required to take timely corrective action on the deficiencies found during the audit. Follow-up activities record the implementation and effectiveness of the corrective action taken. The results of audits and the status of the audit program are reported at each Management Review meeting.
AER’s agile QMS processes have ensured success through many urgent project requirement scenarios. This is facilitated by responsive management and detailed definition of project baseline requirements. All urgent requirements, changes, and modifications are identified, assessed, documented, reviewed and approved by authorized project personnel prior to their realization. Reviews of design changes take into account the effect they might have on the project and any items already delivered. Project Managers take into account both customer requirements and statutory, regulatory and other requirements necessary for the particular applications.