Finding the Solution to Crappy Software


Once you’ve assessed where your organization falls in the curve, there are a set of actions and steps that you can take to see some immediate improvement while incrementally making progress towards the end goal of “software quality nirvana” – Level 5. For instance, an organization that falls clearly into stage one, Traditional Testing, can begin adopting automated testing in certain projects. Immediately, defect rates will start to drop as test coverage increases.

As development organizations move through the five stages, implementing “baby steps” as they continue to improve, the accrued benefits multiply. Quality management delivers team improvements, reducing the cost and time of testing while enabling each team to be more efficient and effective.

Operational LQM has an organizational focus and moving to this quality level brings cross-project value in matching projects to your business needs and eliminating redundancy. It also drives consistent project quality, predictable time-to-market and reduced testing costs across the entire organization.

Enterprise LQM enables global economization. By centralizing skills and sharing workload across distributed testing teams, you can maximize the opportunity for cost reduction and efficiency improvements.

Once you have mapped out where you are, where you want to get to the steps become clear. Devising a solution and planning implementation is just an exercise in figuring out the pace of change that your organization can handle. After completion of each major part of the program, I recommend that you perform another assessment to determine your organization’s new level of capability. This also enables you to keep track of progress and verify that the required improvements have been made.

The Need for Change

The pressures on software development organizations are rising. Increasingly, the world relies on software to conduct their day-to-day activities. The Internet and the global marketplace have combined to produce a 24x7x365 expectation of service. I have seen this first hand in the foodservice, health care, aerospace, marine, defense and technology industries.

Consumers are quick to complain and change their allegiance if software lets them down. VPs and managers know that their organizations must produce high quality software faster and at lower cost, which means development and testing must become more productive and efficient. Plenty of time, resources and conversations have been dedicated to defining the problem. What organizations need now is concrete, pragmatic solutions.

The quality maturity approach provides organizations with a structure and process for improving software quality. This framework is derived from long and wide-ranging experience meant to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of software development and testing processes. No, it isn’t a “silver bullet” to the problem of software quality because challenges this thorny rarely have a simple solution. The quality maturity curve is a framework—a tangible, practical guide that can help organizations understand what they need to do to improve quality and how to go about doing it.

Bob Doyle has over 35 years experience with Fortune 100 and smaller companies. His areas of expertise include strategic planning, supply chain management, ERP system implementations, process reengineering, IT organizational development and offshore outsourcing. He has served as a Partner at Tatum CIO Partners and a CIO at Fleming Companies, Alliant Foodservice (formerly Kraft Foodservice), Community Mutual Insurance Company (Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Ohio) among others.