Why Software Quality Stinks
By: JON SURMACZ
SOFTWARE STILL STINKS. What's more, according to a recent survey, it may not get better until attitudes change—from the top down. The Cutter Consortium, an Arlington, Mass.-based IT consulting and advisory service, recently surveyed more than 150 software development organizations across several industries (computer software, financial services, education and more) and found that 38 percent of developers said their companies do not have an adequate software quality assurance program. A startling 31 percent said their companies had no quality assurance personnel at all. In spite of this, the perception among developers is that most senior managers are satisfied with the quality of software that their companies are producing. It's time for senior management to provide visible support for software quality.
If your organization doesn't have a software quality team in place, follow these five steps to get an effective group up and running.
1 Get support from senior management. If developers know that a CIO, CTO or CEO is backing the software quality assurance manager, they'll be more likely to produce cleaner code. Get the attention of executives by connecting software quality to the bottom line.
2 Establish a quality organization (with processes, staff and an experienced manager). You may be able to form a group from in-house staff; however, E.M. Bennatan, senior consultant at the Cutter Consortium, says having an experienced, strong quality manager is vital. "You need someone who has spent a few years in the trenches and has gotten products out the door," he says.
3 Train developers too. Don't save quality training just for the quality assurance group. Developers will pay closer attention to quality issues if they know what to watch out for.
4 Listen to your customers (or user group). Get customers involved in the development process. Offer them a beta version of software to test. "Their feedback is invaluable," says Bennatan.
5 Collect metrics. The quality process should be data-driven, according to Bennatan. Demonstrate that the quality of your products is improving.
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