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Quality Assurance Terms Glossary/P

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PA - Preventive Action - (See also CA)

P Chart - A chart used to monitor proportion defective.

Paper Prototypes - A series of drawings that are developed by the designer on cad systems and are reviewed by decision makers prior to acceptance.

Paradigm - A model, or theory or conceptual system. In current use: a way of seeing or thinking which often serves to distort or limit our ability to receive or understand new information or learnings. Senge calls such models of thinking and perception "mental models" in his book the fifth discipline.

Parallel Processing in Focused Teams - Performing work simultaneously rather than sequentially.

Parameter Design - Designing control factors such as product specifications and measurements for optimal product function.

Pareto Analysis - A type of prioritizing proposed by Joseph Juran, named for economist/sociologist Wilfredo Pareto.

Pareto Chart - Chart used to identify and prioritize problems to be solved.

Pareto Principle - aka Pareto Principle 80:20 Rule or 80 20 Rule

Pareto, Vilfredo - An Italian economist and sociologist, known for his application of mathematics to economic analysis and for his theory of the 'circulation of elites'.

Pareto Diagram - Focuses on efforts or the problems that have the greatest potential for improvement by showing relative frequency and/or size in a descending bar graph. Based on the proven pareto principle: 20% of the sources cause 80% of any problems.

Parking Lot - A term used in meetings that refers to a flip-chart or whiteboard where topics that are off-the-subject are “parked” with the agreement that these topics will be candidates for the agenda in a future meeting.

Part 820 - See FDA 21 CFR Part 820

Partnering - An approach to selling in foreign markets that involves the collaborative effort of two organizations.

Parts Per Million - PPM

Passive Analysis - Data collected and analyzed as the process is currently performing, without adjustments to the process, to determine kpivs.

Passive Data - Gathering this occurs when the customer initiates the data gathering for a firm such as filling out a customer complaint card or sending an e-mail. The firm provides the mechanism for feedback, the customer must initiate the use of the mechanism.

Passively Solicited Customer Feedback - A method of soliciting customer feedback that is left to the customer to initiate, such as filling out a restaurant complaint card or calling a toll-free complaint line.

Pay-For-Learning Programs - Programs that involve compensating employees for their knowledge and skills rather than singularly for the specific jobs they perform.

PDCA - Plan, Do, Check, Act

PDSA - Plan, Do, Study, Act, (see Shewhart Cycle) - A method for learning and for improvement. Also described as Plan, Try, Observe, Act (on observations). Popularized in Japan as Plan, Do, Check, Act, or PDCA. Deming prefers study rather than check in order to emphasize the importance of learning in improvement.

PERT - Project Evaluation and Review Technique

Perceived Quality - A dimension of quality identified by david garvin that refers to a subjective assessment of a product’s quality based on criteria defined by the observer.

Percent Chart - A control chart for evaluating the stability of a process in terms of the percent of the total number of units in a sample in which an event of a given classification occurs. Also known as proportion chart.

Performance - A dimension of quality that refers to the efficiency in which a product performs its intended purpose. Systemic thinking recognizes that "performance" as observed or measured is the consequence of many factors and is rarely attributable just to the individual or group most closely associated with the process or event [see x + (xy) = 8].

Performance Benchmarking - A type of benchmarking that allows initiator firms to compare themselves against benchmark firms on performance issues such as cost structures, various types of productivity performance, speed of concept to market, and quality measures.

Performing - The fourth stage of team development, where a mutually supportive, steady state is achieved.

Physical environment - The geographic area that is in the proximity of an organization.

Plan-Do-Check-Act aka PDCA - PDCA - A cycle for process improvement pioneered by w. E. Deming. aka Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA)

Plan-Do-Study-Act - PDSA - A quality improvement process cycle pioneered by Walter Shewhart and used by W.E. Deming. 1) A plan to effect improvement is developed. 2) The plan is carried out, preferably on a small scale. 3) The effects of the plan are observed 4) the results are studied to determine what was learned and what can be predicted.

Poka Yoke - Process or Product Mistake Proofing

Population - (1) All possible measurements on a part, or on a process throughout history, i.e. A whole set of data. (2) A statistical term referring to the collection of measurements of a characteristic that could be made on the items in a frame or list.

Positive Recall - The ability to trace items forward and backward. The ability to trace the origin of non-inspected materials or product that enter a process through an approved procedure exception; or any use of quality system documentation to recall any documented component or activity.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc - Latin for "after this, therefore because of this." A logical fallacy in which correlation between two or more variables is mistakenly interpreted as a causal relationship: B followed A, therefore A caused B. In manufacturing terms, operator A produced parts for four hours without producing any defectives, but operator B took over and x number of defectives were produced. The fact that there is a correlation between operator B’s arrival and the production of defectives doesn’t necessarily mean that operator B was the cause of the problems—there might have been other factors at work, such as material, tool wear, machine maintenance, etc.

Pp - The Pp index is used to summarize a system's performance in meeting two-sided specification limits (upper and lower).

PPAP - Production Part Approval Process


PPM - Parts Per Million - Usually an expression of Defect Rate in the automotive world.


Predictive Maintenance

Precision - The amount of "scatter" in a collection of measurements. A quantitative measure of precision requires the measurement system be in statistical control. Note that "precision" does not mean that the measurements are at or near a desired target...Only how tightly grouped they are.

Presidential Audits - Annual audits where the president leads the quality audit.

Prevention - Working to improve the process so it is likely that problems or defects will be avoided and will not have to be addressed by inspection (see detection) and rework.

Prevention Costs - (1) Costs associated with preventing defects and imperfections from occurring. (2) Costs incurred to keep failure and appraisal costs to a minimum.

Preventive Action - Action to eliminate the cause of a potential nonconformity or other undesirable potential situation

Preventive Maintenance - Maintaining scheduled up-keep and improvement to equipment so equipment can actually improve with age. aka PM.

Prioritization Grid - A tool used to make decisions based on multiple criteria.

Probability - The chance of something happening. Calculated from the number of occurrences divided by number of times that occurrence could have occurred.

Probability Density Function - The chance that a continuous random variable is in any range of values can be calculated as the area under a curve over that range of values. The curve is the probability density function of the random variable. For example, the probability density function of a random variable with a standard normal distribution is the normal curve. Only continuous random variables have probability density functions.

Probability Sample - A sample drawn from a population using a random mechanism so that every element of the population has a known chance of ending up in the sample.

Problem Solving - A process for responding to an unacceptable condition in order to make it acceptable. In many cases, this means returning conditions to their prior state. In such cases, problem solving can be distinguished from improvement because improvement's aim would be to change the conditions to a more desirable state, or to work on preventing or reducing the severity or frequency of the problem.

Process - The interaction of materials, machines/tools, methods and people together in an environment to produce a product or result.

Process Audit

Process Benchmarking - A type of benchmarking that focuses on the observation of business processes including process flows, operating systems, process technologies, and the operation of target firms or departments.

Process Capability - (1) A statistical measure of the inherent process variability for a given characteristic. (2) a measurement of the variability in a process to some specification criteria. (3) the number of standard deviations that will fit between the target value and the specification limit, i.e. A process with 6 sigma capability can fit 6 standard deviations between the target and the upper or lower specification limit. A higher value indicates a more capable process.

Process Capability Index - aka Cpk - (1) A measurement of process capability shown as a ratio of the distance between the specification limits and the process mean to the process variation. To have a capability of at least 1, a process must be in statistical control and on target. (2) The value of the tolerance specified for the characteristic divided by the process capability. Cpk and cp are common types of indices.

Process Charts - Tools for monitoring process stability.

Process Decision Program Chart - A tool that is used to help brainstorm possible contingencies or problems associated with the implementation of some program or improvement.

Process Improvement Teams - teams that are involved in identifying opportunities for improving select pro-cesses in a firm.

Process Mapping - Illustrated description of how things get done, which enables participants to visualize an entire process and identify areas of strength and weaknesses. It helps reduce cycle time and defects while recognizing the value of individual contributions.

Process Quality Audit - An analysis of elements of a process and appraisal of completeness, correctness of conditions, and probable effectiveness.

Process Variation

Producer’s risk - The risk associated with rejecting a lot of material that has acceptable quality.

Product - A tangible good that is produced for a customer. A result of a completed process. The product may be a physical item or the result of a group process such as a decision or a plan.

Product-based - The context of garvin’s quality dimensions.

Product Benchmarking - A type of benchmarking that firms employ when designing new products or upgrades to current products. Also see Benchmarking.

Product Data Management - A method for gathering and evaluating product-related data.

Product Design and Evaluation - Activities that include the definition of the product architecture and the design, production, and testing of a system (including its subassemblies) for production.

Product Design Engineering - A form of engineering that involves activities associated with concept development, needs specification, final specification, and final design of a product.

Product Idea Generation - The process of generating product ideas from external and internal sources.

Product Liability - The risk a manufacturer assumes when there is a chance that a consumer could be injured by the manufacturer’s product.

Product Marketing and Distribution Preparation - The process of developing the marketing-related activities associated with a product or service.

Product Manufacture - Delivery, and use stages of the supply chain.

Product Traceability - The ability to trace a component part of a product back to its original manufacturer.

Product Quality Audit - A quantitative assessment of conformance to required product characteristics.

Production Part Approval Process - aka PPAP.

Productivity Ratios - Ratios that are used in measuring the extent to which a firm effectively uses its resources.

Profound Knowledge - See System of Profound Knowledge

Profound Organizational Learning - Quality-based learning that occurs as people discover the causes of errors, defects, and poor customer service in a firm.

Project Charter - a document showing the purposes, participants, goals, and authorizations for a project.

Project Management - Ensemble of activities to plan and follow the execution of a project.

Proportion Chart - See Percent Chart

Protocol - An order or method for performing a particular task or function.

Prototyping - An iterative approach to design in which a series of mock-ups or models are developed until the customer and the designer come to agreement as to the final design.

Pugh Matrix - A method of concept selection used to identify conflicting requirements and to prioritize design tradeoff.

p-value - A p-value > 0.05 means the null hypothesis (that the distribution is normal) is accepted. A p-value < 0.05 means that the null hypothesis is rejected and the distribution is not normal.

Pygmalion Effect - Recognition that our expectations of an individual can significantly influence that individual's behavior and perceived performance. From George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion: "... the difference between a lady and a flower-girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins because he treats me as a flower girl and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady and always will..."