Tag Archives: quality

Build management and Governance

Don’t break the build.

There is absolutely no question that the build process is a pivot in the software quality process. Build every day, don’t break the build and do a smoke test before releasing the latest version.

This morning, I installed the latest build of an extremely complex network security product from one of our customers and lo and behold, one of the most basic functions did not work (and has not worked for about 3 revisions now apparently). Wrote a love letter to the customer service and QA managers and chided them for sloppy QA.

An article I saw recently, talks about the “confluence of compliance and governance” and the direct link to software quality. If you read Jim McCarthy’s classic – “Dynamics of Software Development” you will remember the chapter called Don’t break the build.

You may be using Linux make, Microsoft nmake or Apache Ant but in all cases, the build expertise of the person running the build is more important than the tool itself. the development team runs a daily build with a build-meister personally responsible for running the construction of a working system from all the components. If the build breaks he doesn’t go home.

It is better to have a non-programmer do the smoke-test before the final release to manufacturing. A person outside the engineering team does not have the blinders or personal interest to ignore basic functionality that gets broken ( not to mention having motivation to one-up the engineers).

Anyhow, maybe there is still hope if the compliance gurus have discovered software quality.

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US bashing Toyota for displacing GM as #1

There is a reason why GM is in trouble and Toyota has displaced GM in the number one automobile manufacturer.

Here is a piece from a colleague and friend – Todd Walzer, Todd and I worked together at Intel Fab 8 in Jerusalem in the 80’s.

Working at Intel Jerusalem in the 1980’s, we were all in awe of Japan. Quality Circles, Just-In-Time Manufacturing – Japan was way ahead.  20 years later, it’s still a quality-first country, but there are a few chinks in the armor.

Recently I paid a visit to a top-tier auto makers’ factory.  After the factory-floor discussions, we walked over to the office building, which maintains a traditional “lean and mean” atmosphere.  Little more than a tin hall, with lines of desks in open space, lights switched off by sensors above unmanned desks. The small open-space “meeting area” has high tables with no chairs. Meetings are held standing up – short and to the point.

In the meeting area is a bulletin board, and one posting caught my eye.  It was a list of “This Month’s 10 Worst Suppliers”, replete with graphs and defect counts.

I can’t recall this methodology from any of my business school textbooks, and still not sure what to make of it. One way or another, it left an impression on me.  I bet it made an even greater impression on those 10 companies.

The recent Toyota crisis is not without its cultural hypotheses on the Japan side.  “The U.S. is bashing Toyota for displacing GM as #1.”  “Toyota’s failure stems from adopting too many foreign parts suppliers as part of its aggressive expansion”.

The Japan economy, stagnant the past 20 years, is in need of positive thinking.  I expect a turnaround with the change of generation, in 5-10 years time. My modest wish: on a future visit to this factory, I hope to see a Best Ten Suppliers List tacked up next to the Worst Ten.

Where the Americans are focussed on finance and bonuses and Obamacare – the Japanese are still focussed on quality and manufacturing – after having adopted Deming’s philosophy of Total Quality after WWII – the Americans are adrift on their own home turf, printing money to fund socialist public policy and setting world records in executive fraud and data security breaches.  The Japanese may need to have more positive thinking but in my opinion, the Americans need to get back to basics of innovation and quality manufacturing.

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