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Abrachan Pudusserry
Articles Published

The Challenges in Building A World Class Quality Function

If the customer is important, Quality is also important. But in many organizations, the quality function is in the lower strata. Most of the time, the responsibility for this situation is with the quality department / function itself. Instead of playing a major, complementing role to Sales, Engineering and Management, they prefer the other route, resulting in isolation from the mainstream.

When one step into an organization as a leader for Quality Improvement, the challenges are manifold. The most important among them is creating a team of quality professionals with the ability to win, despite the obstacles on the way. A winning team, with a shared mission, focus and tremendous amount of perseverance and emotional quotient. Unfortunately, this aspect gets the least priority due to several reasons. It is very easy to get immersed in the day to day operations, and jump into the race without a proper team. What a disaster it can be!

It is very difficult to inherit an excellent team. Even if one is lucky to inherit one of the best teams, then gaining their acceptance as leader, and creation of a common mission is never a cake walk. It will never happen accidentally. One need to have clear strategy for achieving the above. One of increased production capability and high level of emotional deposits. Without a committed team, it is very difficult to implement the strategies for quality improvement, organization wide , irrespective of the brilliance of the strategies themselves. It is like attempting to cut the forest without a sharp axe.

Creating a winning team

Quality profession, by the very nature of it, is conceived as a fault finding job, without much creativity involved. Majority of the quality professionals are psyched to believe in this by their mentors (Quality without tears by Crosby). Hence, most of them, really dont know what can be their career path, in the long run. And nobody dares to show them the career path, because, in the conventional organizations, it is not very rosy (Have you ever heard of a quality professional becoming a CEO, very rare!, but all successful CEOs have believed in quality. So if we go by the definition of a quality professional as One who takes initiative to improve the quality of processes and products in an organization, any one while performing the quality improvement function, is a Quality professional, hence there is no CEO who has not worked as a quality professional!!) .

Lets have a look at the conventional career path and the skill sets requirement for each position, for two fresh engineers, who joins a conventional software company, one as a quality professional and the other as a programmer.







Title Skills Years OfExperience Title Skills
Test Engineer TESTING,Domain,Platform <2 Programmer Domain,PLATFORM
Quality Coordinator PLANNING&TEAM MANAGEMENT,scheduling, COMMUNICATION,TESTING,DOMAIN,FRAMEWORKS like ISO,CMM,Audits,Reviews,Training,Process definition & Improvement >2 < 4 Module Lead PLANNING & TEAM MANAGEMENT, scheduling, communication,PLATFORM,DOMAIN
SQA Lead PLANNING&TEAM MANAGEMENT,scheduling, COMMUNICATION,TESTING,DOMAIN(multiple projects), FRAMEWORKS like ISO,CMM,Audits,Reviews,Training,Process definition & Improvement >4 Project Manager PLANNING,TEAM MANAGEMENT,SCHEDULING,DOMAIN ( one project)
Capital letters indicate major skill sets

Look at that!. The skills required for a quality professional outweighs that of a software engineer. To understand this, objective analysis is required. If your organization is in the complex, high value, mission critical software development segment ,this realization is very important for the organizations long term success.

The main symptoms of an inefficient quality organization are
Every one is worried. In their looks, talk and walk. There is no energy, to enthusiasm, no laughter, no direction.

The quality professionals face brightens only when the software fails (what an anomaly. Most often they fight, without even realizing that they are working for the same company!)

The place of the quality function is low in the order of value addition to the organization, and it is evident from the managements actions

The brightest of the software guys never opt for Quality related job, their slot is Engineering

The rest of the organization treats them different. Most of the time, this is evident even in the managements approach.

Are underpaid, than their peers with similar qualifications and experience who works as a programmer or a project manager

Can see self proclaimed specialists, doing the same monotonous, less effective operation years together, without any effort to improve anything, and with inertia to change

The quality professional, does not know, or does not want to know, or does not have the capability to understand the overall business perspective.

Root causes for this;
From top management till the quality professionals, in a less matured organization, tends to think that, the job content of a quality professional involves only detection of bugs, if any. Hence the selection process of quality professionals are much more liberal, than for coders even when the demands of the quality professionals job demands the best talent. So, the guy, who is desperate for a job, even when his heart is in coding, opts for testing and always looks backwards instead of looking forward.

Most probably, the quality head will be less than a leader, who does not know how to think differently and more creatively. Hence lacks self confidence, due to lack of conviction. The focus gets narrow (CMM certification, ISO certification, Product release). Hence does not concentrate on the important- not urgent priorities for the Quality function.

With the effect of the above two root causes, the team gets disillusioned and burnt out fast. This makes further progress difficult.


Most of the quality professionals are fresh from the College, when they enter the quality profession, without much formal training in the quality fundamentals and software engineering. Hence they fail to understand the intricacies involved in the software engineering process. Hence lacks the ability to provide constructive feedbacks to the project teams and are capable of playing only the defect detection role. This leads to reduced respect from engineering teams.

Majority of the quality professionals fail to realize the importance and scope of their jobs. It is much more than just test planning and testing. It is that of an internal consultants to the rest of the organization, that of a strategist and executioner of the strategies, of a coach, of researcher, of a test automator, of a bench marking specialist, of an analyst, of an advisor, of an evangelist of continuous improvement, of a designer, developer and implementor of world class quality management systems, of an external consultant to customers!! What an opportunity!! What a noble role!! Why are we not doing it then!!

Here lies the opportunity. The quality leader should have enough stamina, knowledge and charisma to initiate the following;

Raise the expectation level of the team. Make them realize that, what they are doing is very important to the organizations and their long term success.

Show them a great career path (If possible, convince the management of the idea of transforming QA into a line of business, once there are enough strengths within the function. This can open up a plethora of consulting opportunities for the Quality professionals, and additional revenue for the organization, resulting in WIN-WIN situations of all concerned)

Share enough best practices from world class organizations with the team. Make them believe that it is possible to emulate / better those performances. Set world class performance standards.

Reward continuous learning (This is needed for consulting. Have as many Masters, Doctorates. Since this takes longer time, the focus has to start from the early days)

Promote innovation

Focus on training

Ensure that, quality is everybodys business. Evangelize the role of everyone in the quality journey. Team up with top management to reiterate on the importance of quality for the organization, in as many ways and as many times as possible.


Teach the team to focus on circle of influence instead of circle of concern (Teach all, the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen covey)

Rock the boat, let everyone come out of their comfort zones

Insist on getting the best talent on board (With all these happening in the quality function, one can expect more aspirants from within the organization for the Quality professionals job)

And most important, do all these at the right pace and at the right time. The pace of this transformation should neither be too quick nor too slow. It should be the ideal phase, varies from organization to organization and from time to time. (When there is a recession in the US, hence a reduction in the delivery pressures, then go at maximum pace!). The timing is also very important. Excellent ideas can fail, because of bad timing for implementation (no point in proposing process improvement to a team, who are already struggling to meet the deadlines, they will surely reject it. The same team will cooperate, if the same idea is presented, after them meeting the deadline)

Start planting the seeds from the day one and walk the talk. This much is enough, to have a winning, ticking team. The rest of the journey is simple with the winning team. The approach is Inside-Out. It is Simple. It is within the circle of influence. The positive results of this, will result in the organization wide quality focus, where quality becomes everyones priority. Thats what every one needs after all!!

P.A.Abrachan
SEPG Head
Think Business Networks
www.abrachan.com

In depth...

Articles Published

Need Of The Hour
Building the appropriate organizational climate paves the way for qualitative enhancement of services.
Most organizations embark on the quality journey due to pressure from competition. Normally this is pursued as a turnkey project with a stretch target and guidance from an external consultant. While enthusiasm peaks on the day of certification it tapers down later and the number of non-conformities increases linearly with time. Then the burn out and downward trends begin. As a corollary, adequate groundwork has to be done for quality improvement programs to bear fruit. Evidently then, the framework which will provide the right organizational climate for the quality tree to grow and yield robust fruits is critical.
At the foundation level resides the corporate vision, mission and objective (VMO). In most organizations this is done top down, which reduces the ownership of VMO as you move down the hierarchy. Also, in most companies, around 60% of the employees do not even know the organizational mission. In certain cases the organization itself does not have a mission statement and so an opportunity to drive the organization along the right direction is missed. The improvement of quality should begin at the top management level where vision, commitment and an open approach are formulated. A well defined mission statement should ideally:
Focus on the future of the organization
Strategies and programs should flow from this future vision.
Be owned by all in the organizations to the lowest levels
Should focus on customer & quality
All of these can be followed through by top-down and bottom-up orders. The next step is to build the right organizational climate. Especially in industries like software, where the manpower turnover is very high the only solution is continuous education focussed at continuous improvement. It is not that 100% improvement in one process, but it is that 1% improvement in hundreds of processes that grants an organization the competitive advantage.
The whole process of building the right organizational climate rests on four pillars:
Philosophy: Masaki Imais kaizen

Direction: W Edward Demings 14 points
Steps: 5 step methodology of Philip Crosby
Integrity: Seven habits of Stephen Covey
These philosophies and practices can be imbibed into the organization by continuous education supported by well drawn out, structured training programs and recognition systems for the achievers. These training programs also should undergo continuous improvement and get institutionalized as part of the induction programs for new entrants to the organization.
The next challenge lies in organizing the training through external or internal agencies. If external, then identification of adequate competence and enthusiasm to translate the required knowledge with conviction into concrete, viable outcomes forms the most crucial phase. If the training is carried out through internal channels, then it is advisable to get the trainers trained and proven before they embark on the training program. The programs should be aimed at creating opportunities to learn new skills, practice them and share the experiences which will undoubtedly result in improvement. Recognition programs to support the achievers must be part of the training programs. The ultimate objective of these training programs should be to generate conviction in each employee on the significance of continuous quality improvement. For the organization to experience this cultural change, each and every employee should first experience the benefits at a personal level.
Kaizen philosophy
Kaizen is a Japanese term for continuous improvement which really means continuous incremental improvement. kai refers to change and zen refers to good, thereby meaning changing for the good. It pertains to continuous improvement involving everyone from top management, managers to workers. It also refers to improvement in personal life too.
The kaizen strategy is the single most important concept in Japanese managementthe key to Japanese competitive success. It rests on the basic premise that our way of life deserves to be constantly improved. (Masaki Imai)
Implementing kaizen: Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service. Improvement is not a one time effort. Management is obligated to continually look for ways to reduce waste and improve quality. (W Edward Deming)
This is certainly not easy and will come about only when people become dissatisfied with their current working conditions, which is the ideal time to introduce the 5S exercise which comprise of:
Seiri Separate out all that is unnecessary and eliminate it
SeitonThose things found to be necessary are put in order so that they are ready for use when required.
SeisoClean workplace, equipment and prevent defects
SeiketsuStandardize. Make cleaning and checking routine
ShitsukeDiscipline and training, personal cleanliness and applying kaizen to the previous four steps
The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need. This comes from the recognition of a problem. If no problem is recognized, there is no recognition for the need for improvement. Complacency is the arch-enemy of kaizen. Therefore kaizen emphasises problem-awareness and provides clues for identifying problems. (Masaki Imai)
CRITICAL QUESTIONS: Using the 5Ws and one H encourages employees to look at a process and raise critical questions.
Who is doing it? Who should be doing it?
What is being done? What should be done?
Where is it being done? Where should it be done?
When is it being done? When should it be done?
Why is it being done ? Why do it that way?
How is it being done? How should it be done?
MONITORING KAIZEN IMPLEMENTATION: The kaizen axiom is about continuous improvement of people, processes, procedures and any other factor affecting quality. An effective way to identify problems and representing opportunities for improvement is to formulate a checklist that draws attention to those factors needing improvement. These could be:
Personnel
Work techniques
Time
Facilities
Equipment
Systems
Software
Tools
Materials
Plant Layout
Production Levels
Inventory
Paradigms or mindset
To utilize this checklist in the workplace, the immediate supervisors approval and co-operation is critical. A positive response from the boss encouraging his subordinates new ideas and techniques will then develop trust between them thus stimulating other improvements in its wake and making the work front a progressive one.
However it is easier preached than practised. Very basic questions like The procedures are fine with me, why should we change it? can emerge from the superiors end. From your perspective, it would be risky for you to change it using your own discretion. This could well be a case of the wet blanket list, in Masaki Imais words, wherein your boss declined to give you a chance for anonymous reasons.
Wet blanket list:
I am too busy to study it
Its a good idea but the timing is premature
Its not on the agenda
Theory is different from practice
Isnt there something else for you to do?
I think it does not match with corporate policy
It isnt our business; let someone else think about it
Are you dissatisfied with your work?
It is not improvement, it is common sense
I know the result, even if we dont do it
I will not be held accountable for it
Cant you think of a better idea?
Those are the twelve wet blankets you frequently hear in work situations which will tell on the productivity of the employees as they typically put out the fire of progress. In order to avoid such a stalemate, the following ten basic kaizen tips can be adhered to:
Discard conventional and fixed ideas
Think of how to do it, not why it cannot be done
Do not make excuses. Start by questioning current practices
Do not seek perfection. Do it right away even if for only 50% of the target
If you make a mistake, correct it right away
Do not spend money for kaizen. Use your wisdom
Wisdom is brought out when faced with hardship
Ask why five times and seek root causes
Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one
Kaizen ideas are infinite
Crosbys five step methodology
The onus of Philip Crosbys methodology is on 1% improvement of hundreds of processes than on 100% improvement of one process. Crosby proposed the four absolutes of quality which are the principles we use to operate, manage and improve our job processes. They provide the answers to four very important questions about quality.
How do we define quality?
How can we make quality happen?
What standard do we use for our performance?
How can we measure quality?
The answer to these questions lies in the four absolutes of quality.
DEFINITION OF QUALITY: It is conformance to requirements. Any product, service or process that conforms to its requirements is a quality product, service or process.
SYSTEM FOR QUALITY IS PREVENTION: Prevention involves communicating, planning, proofing and working in a way that eliminates opportunities for non-conformance.
PERFORMANCE STANDARD IS ZERO DEFECTS: Zero defects is a commitment to meet all the requirements for our work the first time, every time. Our standard is that non-conformance is not acceptable. It is also an attitude, a personal commitment by each of us to understand the requirements of our jobs and do the needful.
MEASUREMENT IS THE PRICE OF NON-CONFORMANCE: The best way to measure quality is to calculate what it costs to do things wrong. This measurement is called price of non-conformance.
The five step methodology is a highly effective one to eliminate any root cause which culminates in non-conformance. Once a problem or potential problem is identified, these steps can be followed effectively to eradicate the causes for the problem one by one permanently, thus facilitating the organizations progress in the quality journey.
DEFINE THE SITUATION: The first step for solving problems is to define the situation. This step includes describing the problem clearly and planning the solution
APPLY FIX: A fix is a temporary step to keep things going.
Identify the root causes. A root cause is the source from which non- conformance originates. The techniques that can be used to identify the root causes can be:
Requirements review
Threads of similarity
Opportunities for error
Cause and effect diagram
Pareto analysis
FORMULATE AND IMPLEMENT CORRECTIVE ACTION: This step has four parts:
Generate possible corrective actions
Select the corrective action
Plan and communicate the corrective action
Implement the corrective action
EVALUATE AND FOLLOW UP: We evaluate the corrective action to see if the problem has been solved. We follow up to make sure the corrective action remains in place and to identify any side effects for the change.
Demings fourteen points
If kaizen forms the underlying philosophy and Crosbys five step methodology forms the starting point, then W Edward Demings 14 points gives the direction for the quality improvement process. The top and middle management should always be guided by the spirit underlying the 14 points. This will prevent us from going backwards in our endeavor. The summary of Demings 14 steps are as follows:
Create a constancy of purpose towards improvement of product and service, while being competitive, staying in business and providing jobs.
Create and publish to all employees a statement of purpose of the aims and purposes of the company. The management must demonstrate constantly their commitment to this statement.
Adopt the new philosophy, namely kaizen- for top management and every body.
Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality, by building quality initially into the product.
Understand the purposes of inspection, for improvement of processes and cost reduction.
End the practice of awarding business on price tag alone.
Look for long lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships based on loyalty, trust and professionalism.
Improve continuously and constantly the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity and decrease costs regularly.
Institutionalize training for the job to develop skills within the new recruitment, to assist management and understand all the processes of the organization.
Teach and institute leadership.
Drive out fear to increase everyones effectiveness. Create trust and openness and a climate for innovation.
Break down barriers among departments. Optimize the aims and purposes of the company, the efforts of teams and individuals.
Eliminate slogans.
Eliminate numerical goals, quotas and management by objectives. Instead encourage learning, institutionalize methods, initiate methods for learning capabilities of processes and their improvement.
Remove barriers that rob members of their right to take pride in workmanship. Eliminate the annual rating or merit system.
Institute programs for education and self-improvement of every one.
Institute an action plan and put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation.
These can act as guidelines which will focus all the activities towards achieving constancy of purpose. Simultaneously they provide an apt road map for top management to demonstrate their commitment. Trust and openness within the organization is central for these steps to gain momentum. The absence of such a work environment will obfuscate questions like why?, how?, who?, where? and what?, which constitute the back bone of innovation leading to improvement.
Coveys seven habits
The moment an individual attempts to become his own advocate, seeking to justify himself or reciprocate in kind the treatment received, he gets trapped within the realm of negative energy exchange. This brings both he and his rival on the same footing compelling them to resort to manipulation, violence, withdrawal, indifference, litigation or political battles.
The dialogic and reciprocal nature of our daily exchanges affirms a fundamental belief in the capacity to grow and improve. As a result, the magnanimity that we weild builds greatness into the very fabric of our personality and character.
People with primary greatness have a sense of stewardship about everything in life, including their time, talents, money, possessions, relationships and family. They recognize the need to use all their resources for positive purposes, and are willing to accept responsibility for their actions. The seven habits lay the foundation for this:
Being proactive refers to the endowment of self-knowledge or self awareness with an ability to choose your response. The probable consequences of every employee believing that Quality begins with me. And I need to take my own decisions based on carefully selected values and principles, are very promising. Proactivity cultivates this freedom to subordinate your feelings to your values. So on the continuum, you proceed from being a victim to an achiever who wields self determining creative power based on self awareness choosing a response to any condition or conditioning.
Beginning with the end in mind is the endowment of imagination and conscience. If you are the programmer, write the program. Decide what you are going to do with the time, talent and tools you have to work with. This promises a sense of hope and purpose encouraging initiatives within our area of influence to improve things around and within. The realization that memory ties you down to the past and imagination leads you to the future is vital. Your potential is unlimited, but to potentiate is to actualize your capabilities in spite of the trying conditions.
Placing first things first relates to the endowment of willpower. If we look at the activities we perform, they can be categorized into four quadrants:
QUADRANT 1 : Urgent & Important
QUADRANT 2 : Important & not urgent
QUADRANT 3 : Urgent & not important
QUADRANT 4 : Not urgent & not important
We tend to spend most of our time in 1, 3 & 4 while the essence of success in the long run is the reduction of 4 , 3 & 1 and in the enlargement of 2.
Think Win-Win pertains to an abundance mentality. As people become increasingly principle-centric, they love to share recognition and power because for them it is an ever expanding pie. The basic paradigm of limited resources is shattered. The abundance mentality produces more profit, power and recognition for everybody.
Seeking first to understand than be understood pertains to the quality of courage balanced with consideration. The root cause of all personnel problems is want of effective communication. People do not listen to understand but are busy preparing their answer while listening. They need approval and lack courage. The attitude is Wait a minute, I am the manager in control. I did not come to listen, I came to talk. When I want your opinion Ill give it to you. The ability to listen first requires restraint, respect and reverence. And the ability to make yourself understood requires courage and consideration. On the continuum, you proceed from fight and flight instincts to mature two way communication where courage is balanced with consideration.
Synergy refers to the quality of creativity. The receptivity towards joint efforts in generating solutions that are far better than those proposed individually and originally is really about synergistic communication. This also marks the ability to transcend designation, hierarchy and position.
Sharpening the saw is the unique endowment of renewed improvement or self-renewal to overcome entropy. At the one end of the spectrum is entropy and at the other end is continuous innovation, improvement and refinement.
The last word
Once the organization focuses on these things, the other achievements like quality certifications will follow as a by-product of the continuous quality improvement drive. Undoubtedly, it will generate a positive impact on the whole business due to enhanced product quality, reduced waste, and contented customers and employees.
PA Abrachan
Unit Head
Professional Services Organization HCL Infosystems Limited








Stepping Stones To Quality Business
An insight into why many organizations fail in implementing corrective measures which require only plain common sense for their solutions.
Most organizations fail to progress on the quality front just because they are unable to prevent problems from happening even when the recurring problems are not alien to them. As a result, they end up with missed deadlines and dissatisfied customers and employees.
An analysis of the causes leading to ineffective corrective actions help us to arrive at the following conclusions:


NO DEFINED PROCEDURES: Even if we as managers, team members and entrepreneurs wonder why the team is committing the same mistakes again and again, we seldom take proactive steps to improve. We have even tried in vain to introduce a system for rewarding those who commit new mistakes unlike those committed in the past. The process for an effective preventive action should cover the following points:
Identification of perceived risks during project management reviews
The non-conformities reported in non-conformance reports or audits, defect logs or testing, review reports and customer complaints. Most of the customer complaints are not recorded. If we are willing to listen, these can be heard in client meetings.
Experiences from the pastexperiences of other teams, locations who were on similar tasks, post-mortem reports of completed projects and lessons learnt from reports.
Another point to be addressed is the onus of the preventive actions. Ideally, it can be the team who is directly involved in the operation where the error has to be prevented. However, in some cases it is better to have one-man teams. If the organizational climate is right it will be a good idea if the non-conformity is published and invite volunteers for preventive actions.
While designing the channels for communication, ensure that they are effective. One cant assume that the message has reached everyone just because it's on the notice board.
When can the preventive action be called effective? Will it be effective, if non-conformance is prevented in one project? Or when it is prevented in all projects in the same location? Or when it is prevented in all projects at all locations? It is advisable to test the preventive action in one project before implementing it at on a broader scale.
Philip B Crosbys five-step methodology can be effectively deployed for implementing preventive actions. The five steps comprise:
Defining the problem
Applying a fix to the problem
Identifying the root causes
Implementing preventive action
Evaluating and follow-up activities
LACK OF MONITORING AND MEASUREMENT: Even if as part of a methodology, evaluation and follow-up methods are defined, it is advisable to include monitoring of preventive actions during:
Review of project plans to ensure that all preventive actions taken in the past and currently in progress are included either in the risk management section or operational processes of the project plans.
Review of the quality management system to ensure that the proofed and time-tested preventive actions are institutionalized by incorporating them into the QMS of the organization.
Internal and external audits.
Project management reviews.
LACK OF RECOGNITION: This appears to be the simplest as well as the most complicated factor. The challenge lies in bringing in a system to identify the best contributions. In a highly matured organization, selection by peers can be adopted. However, this can lead to negative results if the team is not matured and different factors such as informal groups and formal groups can influence the selection. The other alternatives are to have a panel of external judges or to have an internal panel with credibility.
NOT PART OF HANDOVER/TAKEOVER PROCEDURES: Especially in industries where the rate of employee turnover is high or the frequency of job rotation is high, the onus of preventive action may shift along with the person responsible for the area of operation. This would make it difficult for the person to proceed with the preventive action project. Most quality improvement initiatives fail due to this problem. This can be reduced to a large extent by laying out a careful process which involves the handing over the charge of preventive action to the successor in a formal manner.
NO PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: In a competitive scenario where switching jobs is not an exception, the growth path of employees within the same organization is very narrow. However, there are a lot of exceptions and they are growing within the organization due to lesser competition. Apart from recognition, setting of performance standards like at least one preventive action during the appraisal period to become eligible for promotion or exemplary performance will have a positive impact.
Setting of performance standards like at least one preventive action during the appraisal period to become eligible for promotion or exemplary performance will have a positive impact.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE: Nobody generally takes initiatives in areas where they lack knowledge. Constant training on methodology and sharing experiences are the only way out. There are no short cuts. These can be part of the induction programs organized for new comers. Periodic refresher courses will help the team keep abreast with the latest developments.
LACK OF COMMUNICATION: It is often found in many cases the enthusiasm evaporates before the preventive action reaches some meaningful stage. This results in lack of communication or ineffective communication across the team. The people responsible for communicating lives under the impression that every thing is fine and every body knows what is happening. Reality may be entirely different. Only the people directly involved in defining preventive action will know the facts while those who are supposed to carry out the task may be ignorant about the developments.
While designing the channels for communication, care must be taken to ensure that they are effective. We cant presume that the message has reached everyone, just by putting the matter on the notice board or by issuing a circular. Seminars and workshops can be better options. Effective communication can generate the awareness required to drive the whole movement forward.
PROBLEM DEFINITION
During the acceptance testing of a module, 65 defects were reported by the client which resulted in customer dissatisfaction, employee dissatisfaction and rework.
Average rework time per program unit is one hour.
ROOT CAUSES IDENTIFIED
Lack of experience among team members.
No performance standards available for coders and testers.
Lack of awareness of zero defects and price of non-conformance.
Tight schedule.
Lack of recognition.
Lack of communication.
PREVENTIVE ACTIONS
Training on development tool. It could be 16 hours of theory and 25 hours of hands on.
Training on software testing for 10 hours.
Certification for coders and testers.
Performance standards for coders and testers were set and communicated which was zero defect during unit testing for coders and zero undetected errors for testers.
Peer reviews and peer testing were introduced.
Introduction to zero defects and price of non-conformance were given to the team for two hours.
Function point was used for estimation and the schedules were proofed.
Best performer award was introduced.
Lessons learnt reports were introduced and were made a part of the induction programs.
Institutionalizing the process by publishing it in the Process Improvement Procedures Manual (PIPM) and making it mandatory.
RESULTS
Reduction of rework time from one hour per unit to 15 minutes per unit.
Better exposure to team.
Job satisfaction.
Savings to the tune of 13% of the projected profit.


PA ABRACHAN
Sub Unit Head,
Professional Services Organization,
HCL Infosystems Ltd.












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