In a diverse organization, some units (or people or local processes or practices) will stand out as exceptional. (In some organizations, it's always the same ones that excel; in others it varies.)
To promote excellence across the organization:
|Veryard Project Papers||Business Change and Process Improvement (pdf)|
|Internet Links||EFQM Homepage|
It is common in the software process world to contrast mature and immature
Is maturity a good thing? Many people and organizations seem to regard maturity with a degree of ambivalence. Does maturity connote reliability, resistance to change, lack of excitement? Does maturity always involve sacrificing excitement and energy?
Where would you place Microsoft on the maturity scale?
Maturity is relevant to the adoption of technology. Many people say that they are waiting for a given technology to be mature. What might this mean, and how would they know? What would trigger adoption - or would the late adopters merely find another excuse for delay?
Product maturity could be defined in several ways:
|(i)||in terms of purely technical characteristics, including such quality characteristics as reliability and ease-of-use.|
|(ii)||in terms of the convergence and stability of successive product versions|
|(iii)||in terms of the elapsed time since launch, and the number of users, the achievement of some ‘critical mass’|
|(iv)||as an oblique way of referring to the collective maturity of the users of that technology in its usage|
Some software artefacts appear to have an uncontrolled accumulation of product features, verging on the Baroque.
Professor Manny Lehman uses metrics to analyse software maintenance and software evolution. He characterizes some software artefacts as out-of-control, because of such factors as the rate-of-change of product features, and the growth in size and complexity.
From this perspective, maturity would correspond to a degree of stability, bringing software maintenance and software evolution back under 'proper' management control.
For many technologies, the existence of a critical mass of successful users increases the value of the technology to each user. This is obviously true for communication technologies, such as EDI and fax. It is also true (although less obviously so) for a much broader range of technologies, largely because of the phenomenon of learning by using: increasing the availability of knowledge, skills and collateral products. This is an entirely different notion of maturity.
Where would you place Microsoft Word on the maturity scale?
|The totality of characteristics ...||This entails a holistic notion of quality. Among other things, it warns us against one-sided or unbalanced assessments of quality.|
|... of an entity ...||This implies that a wide variety of subjects and objects
may possess quality.
The definition certainly applies to technological entities such as products and processes. But it can also apply to social entities, such as organizations, companies, or even people.
|... that bear on its ability to satisfy ...||This implies an attention to relevant characteristics.
Technical elegance or other subjective characteristics are only relevant
if they can be linked to something else.
The quality of a solution, therefore, can be equated with the match between means and ends.
|... stated or implied needs.||This implies a focus on the customer or other
stakeholder possessing needs.
It also entails a partnership notion of quality. It isn't good enough just to conform to the contract or the job description.
|When teaching quality courses, I can always stimulate a discussion
Bill Gates uses an ancient definition of quality, derived from Vitruvius. (I found the quote in a book by Tom Peters.)
|Veryard Project Papers||The paradox of demanding solutions
Quality and Eastern Thought The relevance of Confucius to modern quality thinking
|Internet Links||Quality in ComputingThere are loads of references to quality on the Internet. This is a good starting point.|
Quality assurance is defined as 'all the planned and systematic activities
implemented within the quality system, and
demonstrated as needed, to provide adequate confidence that an entity will fulfil requirements for quality' [ISO 8402,
1994]. Confidence is a form of knowledge. Thus quality assurance provides knowledge about the quality of entities.
In common with most other attempts to gain knowledge, quality assurance cannot avoid affecting the entities about which it attempts to gain knowledge. Any attempt to discover the degree of quality of an entity may bring about an improvement in the quality of that entity. Indeed, such improvement is often seen as the primary justification of quality assurance.
Conversely, any prediction of the quality of an entity should take into
account the extent of quality assurance that may be
applicable. In particular, if a software developer has access to quality assurance mechanisms that make the emerging quality of a software artefact visible during the development process (other conditions being favourable), this should contribute to a high degree of quality in the developed artefact.
Thus quality assurance is a reflexive process, which risks inaccuracy
if it ignores its own effects.
|Veryard Project Papers||Quality and Desire|
Six Sigma can be used when a process is repeated millions of times within
a manageable period. In an appropriate context, it can be extremely powerful
and effective. However, it is widely misunderstood and inappropriately
|Veryard Project Papers||Six Sigma|
Software processes can be improved in two main ways:
|Veryard Project Papers||Software Process Improvement|
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