There are a lot many methods to improve the quality. Quality improvements can be people, process, product or technology based. The following list covers some of the main quality improvement methods.
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
Process can be controlled statistically if the measurable parameter associated with the process is monitored on a continuous basis. The monitoring and controlling can be easily digested if charts are used for plotting the data. One of the seven Quality Control tools, known as Control chart is mainly used for this purpose.
The history of quality management, from mere ‘inspection’ to Total Quality Management, and its modern ‘branded interpretations such as ‘Six Sigma’, leading to the development of essential processes is described in a sequential order below, based on a research work
In a competitive era of software industry, the demand is to ascertain that products of highest quality are delivered in the least possible schedule. Historians have traced the concept as far back as 3000 B.C. in Babylonia. Among the references to quality from the code of Hammurabi, ruler of Babylonia, is the following excerpt: “The mason who builds a house which falls down and kills the inmate shall be put to death.” This law reflects a concern for quality in antiquity.
During pre-industrial revolution the dominant Production method was Craftsmanship model. The master craftsman set standards, reviewed the work of others and ordered rework and revision as necessary. One of the limitations of the craft approach was that relatively few goods could be produced.
In the late 13th century,
Humans are of varying in nature. Because of this, the judgement made by one person won’t be similar to that of another person’s under equal conditions. Take the case of a judiciary system. What happens if laws are not applied consistently over people.. Ultimately it leads to the failure of the system. How can the consistency be ensured?
To understand this we need to monitor the system, analyse the variation and take appropriate actions. How can the variation happen? We need to understand the reasons for this variation. Variation can happen due to the subjectivity of judgement. Here the attribute which needs to be analysed for variation is ‘judgement’. Statistical tools like Minitab can be used to
“Nine women can’t deliver a baby in one month”
– Quotes from Frederick P. Brooks’ book- “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering”.
The discipline of Project Management is organizing and managing resources (e.g. people) to achieve project requirements, in such a way that the project is completed within defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints. Time management is a critically important skill for any successful project manager. Ten people can pick cotton ten times as fast as one person because the work can be partitioned. But nine women can’t have a baby any faster than one woman can, because the work cannot be partitioned.
Brooks argues that
There should be a Business Objective (BO) for each and every organization. It can be in terms of profitability, time to market etc. Basically it is chosen on the basis of work being handled by the organization. Here the problem is to map the BO from enterprise level or organizational level to each work units inside the organization. Based on the work units inside the organization, a second layer of objectives might need to be defined (Process Performance Objectives- PPOs, in CMMI terms). The parameter for PPO should be taken based on the critical set of parameters which needs to be monitored. For example to improve profitability, productivity can be critical parameter. So profitability will become the parameter for BO and Productivity as the parameter for PPO. Based on the PPO defined at the organizational level and customer requirements project team needs to come up with project specific goals. For a CMMI high-maturity compliant organization, probability analysis should be there providing enough evidence for achieving the targets. As the PPOs are defined for a range at the organizational level, the probability analysis done at the organizational level won’t match with that at the project level as project goal will be more stringent usually. Hence blindly following the organizational PPOs and corresponding probability analysis might lead to irrelevant conclusions.
Consider a baseline deduced for productivity in an organization as below
Lower control limit= 24 units, Central Value = 27 units and Upper control limit=30 units
There can be four goal statements as given below.
- Goal = Baseline
- Improve average
- Reduce sigma
- Improve average and Reduce sigma
Integrated system is a broad topic with varying perspectives. Definitely, in the fast moving world, the necessity of an integrated System is inevitable. Organizations all over the world are increasingly concerned to improve their management systems to ensure their sustenance in the competitive markets. There are a wide variety of standards demanded by the markets, say like ISO standards which are popular in European countries where as CMMI in American countries. These models or standards like CMMI, ISO 9001, ISO 13485 etc are frameworks for setting up a Quality Management System (QMS). There are cases where organizations are looking for setting up other management systems like Information Security Management System (ISMS), Environmental Management System (EMS) etc. either in a segregated manner or integrated manner. But while defining, implementing and maintaining the management system, the organization experiences high difficulty in relation to the needs of the organization and the levels of integration of these management systems.
Integrated Management System (IMS) is beneficial not only for the organization, but also for the auditors. But setting up of an IMS has to be very careful so that it won’t compromise any of the required practices of as well as not a burden upon the employees of the organization in order to implement and maintain the same. In many cases IMS will be compliant to the required models and standards, if there are experts to interpret the same. But usability part of the same will be on the minimal side as practitioners might face difficulty to get the required information based on the nature of the project they are doing. It will be a cumbersome task for the practitioners