Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Quality Assurance

The role of Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst can trace itself to the growth of Psychology that took place in the United States toward the end of the 19th Century. The changing times of industrial growth were calling for a Psychology that was functional and could be used in practical settings. This “Applied Psychology” was taken into the real world, into schools, factories, advertising agencies, courtrooms, mental health clinics and businesses and eventually became formalized into the sub-discipline of Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology. I/O Psychology deals with the development and application of scientific principles in the workplace.

One theory pertinent to QA to arise from I/O Psychology — The Theory of Scientific Management — came from Frederick Winslow Taylor. He applied scientific principles to the productivity of employees. The central ideas around his work focused on: job analysis as a means to determine the optimal way to complete a job, employee selection by characteristics related to the job, successful performance as the result of careful training of employees, and most importantly, rewarding employees to encourage higher levels of productivity. The findings from this research led to many of methods used today by businesses for standardized appraisal procedures, training methods and team development strategies.

QA Managers and Analysts in business can look to the findings made by I/O Psychology for assistance in the matters that are most pertinent to their specific settings. Some of the activities that can be carried out involve: individual assessment and performance appraisals, job design/re-design, individual coaching and feedback, attitude surveys, compensation/benefits, conflict management, proposal writing, and preparing and presenting results at meetings.

Employing I/O methods in one’s specific environment can assist in assessing where to best focus efforts and in addressing every aspect that needs attention. When we need to know how our employees feel about a particular issue, we can develop and analyze an employee survey to provide information to management and development. We can use the results to influence policy. When we need to assess the quality of the service provided to our customers, we can implement standardized monitoring procedures that produce statistical results. This data will be of use to leads and supervisors in assisting and counseling employees.

QA Analysts can take their role further by looking at other issues at the nature of the business. In a call center, the main function is to handle the incoming questions and problems that users are having. While the focus of QA is on helping employees to provide excellent support and service, observation of calls can help us in other areas. Analyzing calls to look for common technical issues can assist in focusing efforts to eliminate the need for calls that have to be made if the software, or instructions with the software, were easier to understand. The collection and analysis of data into hard numbers will be of use to developers and technical writers. In this way, a QA Analyst creates a focus on inside and outside influences on overall quality and can work to suggest ways in which the product and service provided are of most benefit to the user.

As time passes on and an organization continues to grow, the need for QA will only increase. Having trained professionals in these roles who are familiar with the basic tenets and procedures developed from Psychology will facilitate smooth continued operation of call center teams. Having the foundations already laid gives us the opportunity to only move forward as we create a positive environment for our employees while supplying excellent service for our customer.

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