"Actions" is the fifth component of a quality gate. Actions are predetermined responses to various outcomes for a quality gate. They provide a definition of what will be done if threshold or tolerance levels are met or not met with regards to each quality measure. In particular the actions associated with each quality measure need to take into account the severity of the result on the end product or other quality measures and gates if the threshold or tolerance levels are not met.
Questions which may help clarify the actions to take for a quality measure depending on the tolerance levels are:
- What needs to be done if there is a problem?
- Who needs to be informed?
A suggested way of determining the actions to take is to consider a traffic light (Red, Amber and Green) and the subsequent degree of severity of the action depending on the colour of the light. The traffic lights will correspond to a tolerance level that determines the level of acceptability. The ABS' Statistical Risk Assessment Framework
in the Appendix
may be of use when determining the severity of the action required.
The traffic lights and their potential actions are:
- Green light: occurs when the threshold or tolerance levels have been met and there are no issues with the process at that point in time. This indicates that processing can move to the next stage.
- Amber light: occurs when the threshold or tolerance levels indicate that there may be a problem. This might be that the level achieved for a quality measure at that particular point in time is slightly outside the range of the predetermined level of acceptability. It is advised that investigations should occur to determine if there is a problem or not and to continue cautiously to the next stage of the process whilst the investigation is underway. The amber investigation should ensure that if there is no problem with the process or data that the unexpected result is explained fully.
- Red light: occurs when the threshold or tolerance levels are not met. That is, major issues are identified with the process. This means that the process must stop so that the issues can be investigated and resolved before proceeding to the next step. This may involve returning to the last known place in the process where everything was okay (i.e. the last quality gate) and processing the data from that point forward. This would include applying the required fixes to ensure that the process is correct at the next quality gate. The red light action will vary depending on the severity and timing of the issue that has been identified. In some cases having an already developed contingency plan may be an advisable red light action to take because of the severity of the issue and the time available to fix it.