Software Quality Assurance Process and Procedures

Software-Quality-Assurance

Software Quality Assurance in simple terms is a quality check on the software developed to make sure that the software meets the quality standards. Software Quality Assurance is an ongoing process in the Software Development Life Cycle. The quality checks on the software are routinely. Instead of checking the quality of the product after the completion the Software Quality Assurance checks for quality standard in each phase of software development.

Software Quality Assurance are based on one or more industry standards which help in making software quality guideline and strategies for implementation. The industry standards include ISO 9000 and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).

Anyone involved with software development would like to know “ How can you develop a Career in Software Quality Assurance?”

Since Software Quality Assurance is interwoven in the life cycle of Software development its importance is becoming more evident. Quality Assurance is all about how the software runs and delivers to the end client. Its critical to get it right if you want to make your client happy.

Career path options for Software Quality Assurance professionals:

  1. Product Managers – Quality Assurance professionals are experts at the analyzing the software repeatedly. This process helps them understand the software in great detail. In this competitive world where companies are always coming up with new products, Quality Assurance professionals are the go to people for product development. Product Management is the more natural fit for Quality Assurance professional who can easily diversify and manage product development teams.
  2. DevOps Roles – Quality Assurance Professionals have a holistic approach to Software development process. Developers often lack this holistic approach. So when as the Quality Assurance process moves upstream these QA professionals can easily move and participate in the DevOps role.
  3. Customer Experience Leader- Quality Assurance professionals understand the importance of customer satisfaction. There primary purpose for software testing is to ensure the customer is happy. They understand that the customer comes first. This understanding makes QA professionals great at Customer Experience Leader roles.
  4. Quality Engineering and Strategy – The most natural move form Quality Assurance would be Quality Engineering and Strategy. Quality Engineering has focus not just on quality for each application but the focus is on the quality for the entire system.

iACT Global is a training and certification organisation. They offer courses on Software Quality Assurance. These courses offered would help the QA professionals with improving their chances of developing career in Quality Assurance. With the knowledge acquired through the courses they can also look at diversifying. Giving your career a fresh lease.

How to clear the ITIL Foundation exam

IACT GlobalIn case you are thinking of availing the ITIL foundation certificate and that too for the first time, you must go through this blog. We will discuss some tips in this blog which will help you in nailing ITIL foundation exam and attaining the most sought after ITIL foundation certificate.

Practice a lot

  • Practice is the most important weapon that will help you clear the ITIL Foundation exam. You need to attempt all the sample questions without looking at the answers. This will help you evaluate yourself and get the knowledge about where you stand. Try to time your practice session; this will help you in time management during the actual exam. As the time duration of the ITIL Foundation exam is sixty minutes, you need to practice accordingly. Don’t fail due to bad time management. At IACT Global, we give you lots of practice and make you an expert of all sample questions. IACT Global equips you with adequate knowledge and proper time management skills to nail the ITIL foundation exam.
  • Be familiar with ITIL terminology

    ITIL course is loaded with lots of terms and abbreviations. If you are attempting the ITIL Foundation exam for the first time, you will find these a bit difficult. But by enrolling at IACT Global, you can always be assured to learn these terms and the relationships between them quite easily.

  • Read each question carefully

While giving the actual ITIL Foundation exam, be sure to read all the questions carefully and understand them while taking your own time. You may have to read them twice or thrice to really understand. If a question is in negative, be sure not to miss out the “not”, otherwise you will answer it in a completely wrong way in a hurry. There are also some tricky questions which contain words like “always” or “never”. Try to answer them correctly. Also, don’t be overconfident about short questions as they require your time and understanding as well.

  • Use the knowledge gained form ITIL training

    Last but not the least, don’t stress out. Use whatever knowledge you have gained from ITIL training. Don’t attempt the questions based on your earlier work experience and knowledge. While giving the ITIL Foundation exam, remember that it is an assessment of your understanding of ITIL principles, functions, concepts and processes.
    But you need not worry of all these things because we at IACT Global make you well trained in all aspects of ITIL Foundation exam and equip you with all the weapons necessary to acquire the ITIL foundation certificate.

Who says that lean is only for Toyota?

LEAN MANUFACTORING ball sphere world globe cloudLean management is the philosophy of making continuous, incremental improvements in processes in order to cut down wastage and bring down the cost of operations & production. It is a fallacy to think that lean management is only relevant for manufacturing organizations such as Toyota et al. The philosophy of lean is as relevant for service organizations as it is for manufacturing ones.

A number of service companies have cut down their operational costs by applying the principles of lean management. Consultancy firm McKinsey & Co recently cited a case of how global law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, is saving millions of dollars every year by cutting down wastage and identifying areas of inefficiencies and eliminating them.

Service companies need to have process-oriented approach if they want to identify areas of inefficiencies and wastages. The best example of such a process-oriented approach is McDonald’s. If you visit a McDonald’s restaurant – anywhere in the world – you will find that there are clearly defined processes for even the smallest of operational activities.  The aim behind standardization of these activities at McDonald’s is to maximize efficiency while ensuring that standard quality of products and service is delivered to customers.

Service organizations that have successfully applied the principles of lean management have used lean principles such as process-mapping. In process mapping a company maps every process that is there in the delivery of service to a customer. Then when the processes have been mapped, those processes can be identified which do not create any value for customers. These processes are then eliminated in order to make the entire value chain more efficient.

In the contemporary competitive scenario, services companies need to have the same focus on efficiency and quality that manufacturing companies, like Toyota, tend to have. Service companies too need to standardize many of the routine processes in order to make them more efficient and control costs. They need to focus on the processes in order to improve quality and ensure that the same standard quality is delivered to customers, every time they buy the service.

Service companies should continuously strive for maximizing the value created for customers, if they want to stay competitive. Lean management is a great tool for achieving competitive advantage over competitors – both for manufacturing & service companies.

If you want to understand more about how to apply principles of lean then you should do iACT’s courses in Six Sigma and Lean Management.

“WASTE & VARIATION” inherent in all processes.

slide62Productivity usually makes all the difference to a company’s bottom line, but “WASTE & VARIATION” are inherent in all processes. High-performing companies excel in part because they execute day-to-day business processes better than their competitors. Creating and defending operational advantage is both more important and more difficult to achieve than ever. It requires mastering repetitive processes that deliver value to customers, the organization itself and shareholders.

Leanis about changing culture in the organisation,

  • it is a systematic approach to identify & eliminate waste through continuous improvement, creating flow at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection.”
  • It is a Philosophy of continuous improvement that is learned by doing.
  • Lean is about “Tacit” knowledge, not explicit procedural knowledge,

Six Sigma is a disciplined methodology to eliminate ‘Variation’ from  any  process based on statistical thinking of Defining, Measuring, Analyzing, Improving and Controlling the quality of products, processes with the goal of eliminating virtually all Defects.

Lean Six Sigma” is an approach for Business Performance Improvement that blends the benefits of both Lean mfg. and Six Sigma. Lean focuses on eliminating waste from a process, reducing mfg. lead times adds value to the customer. Six Sigma’s strength is to streamline processes by reducing variation. The goal is to make ‘Zero Defect’ parts. Lean concepts six sigma tools are simple yet very powerful requires high commitment to practice & work towards common GOAL. Lean and Six Sigma complement each other, as Lean accelerates Six Sigma, delivering greater results than what would typically be achieved by Lean or Six Sigma individually.

Lean + 6s = Reliable Quality@ High Speed

 Implementing lean & six sigma can really help because it pushes lean down to everyone involved,” lean concepts have significance for everyone from the management team to machine operators in the Gemba. It allows everyone to demo their skills, requires clear and enough understanding in the lean systems & six sigma tools before going ahead with implementation.

In today’s highly competitive world where organizations facing rising costs every day, Lean Six Sigma allows to combat problems in a systematic manner and grow. It requires high commitment from Top management because the organization experiences a Paradigm shift in fixing products & Processes, so they produce the Quality as coveted by the customer.

The Most Important Questions!

lean“LEAN” is nothing but following simplified processes to perform and to get desired output.
But …..
Does in real everyday manufacturing this concept really works and yield expected results??!!!!

Is it much easier to follow the specified techniques of Lean and The organization will achieve expected results by just following Lean concepts??!! Does Lean manufacturing implies only to people who works in production lines?? Lean manufacturing results in reduction of resources [Especially Man]?? How an automated manufacturing unit can implement lean manufacturing method??

When we use the word Lean manufacturing thousands of such questions will arises in receiver’s mind. Does as stated Lean Manufacturing is really simple?? No, the question will lead to the history and origin of Lean concept. Lean manufacturing derived from the concept of “Toyota Production System [TPS] “, during period of World War II. TPS was framed on the basis of two elements Standardized work and Kaizen [Continuous improvement] and supported by two pillars JIT [Just In Time] & JIDOKA [Self Reliance]. From this stage to today many improvements were made in lean manufacturing and at present days lean is not only considered just as a method, but it is considered as a Philosophy.

The primary purpose Lean manufacturing is to satisfy and exceed customer expectation. What does customer expects?? It is very tough question to answer. But many philosophers, Guru’s considered concept “Customer is King”. Customer problems can be co-related with ICE BERG [We can only look at the surface level problems but there’ll be several submerged or hidden problems which exists]. Lean manufacturing tries to answer actual customer problems.

Second purpose is to attain Quality of the product, any product which we produce should be free of defects and Lean manufacturing focuses on defect free production system to achieve continuous high level Quality as specified by customer. Third purpose is to reduce lead time of the process, it results in increase in cash flows and increases flexibility to respond varied customer demands.

Last but not least, Lean encompasses on saving on resources, it aides to differentiate between “Values” and “Non Values” in process. For E.g.: Think of collecting print out paper from the printer. Our main purpose is to collect paper [Value], but the process involves getting out of the seat, move to printer, collect required paper and return to seat [Non Value]. Lean manufacturing helps us to reduce/eliminate these Non value added activities and increases the output of the process.

Key elements of Lean Manufacturing include, PDCA technique [Plan – Do – Check – Act], Empowering people [No need to reduce people], Eliminate waste [Consider working smart than working hard], Make process as simple and as visible as possible [easy to understand and identify problems], focus on built in quality [Defects should be identified at base & must not go to next process] and finally follow one piece flow and Pull System [Customer focused].

Lean manufacturing is not an individual activity, it is the activity which is performed by complete organization. From company head to company employees everybody will be involved in the process to achieve defined objective of the organization. It is not employee driven or management driven activity but it is organization driven activity. Lean manufacturing utilizes special tools and techniques during implementation. Most of these techniques are derived from Japanese terms, which got very simple meaning [E.g. Kaizen- Change for Better, Kanban – Signal Card]. Some of tools such as 5S [Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain], 5 Why’s, SMED, Takt Time, Value Stream Mapping[VSM], Hoshin Kanri[Policy Deployment], Poka-Yoke, Andon, Visual Control and Visual Management, Gemba etc.

During lean implementation, small focus groups (Called as Kaizen groups) are formed and they are trained to identify the wastes in the production line [Wastes include T: Transportation, I: Inventory, M: Motion, W: Waiting, O: Over production, O: Over Processing, D: Defects (TIMWOOD)]. This group flows through the process line Called as Gemba Activity, Later the group will analyze root cause for these wastes and develop action plan [Time line] for continuous improvement. These activities require continuous support and motivation from management. Lean manufacturing do not bring drastic changes in the production line but over the period one can look for better results. It is also depends on continuous involvement of people. In Lean process defects or mistakes are considered as golden opportunities for continuous improvement. This lean process is a continuous PDCA activity.

Lean manufacturing also have many road blocks. As stated earlier it required involvement of complete organization and co-ordination between several departments. Sometimes process is too busy, resources are not available, no budget for special activities, poor management policies, not our job we’ll outsource to others etc. But a strong understanding of lean processes and driven by values will always yield better results.

You own a business? Why are you scared of Six Sigma and Lean?

six sigmaLean and Six Sigma are two ways in which a business can maximize the value created for its owners or shareholders. Lean is about continuously cutting down wastage in the production processes. Wastage is defined as anything that doesn’t result in creation of value for customers. Value is anything that the customer will be ready to pay for. By cutting down wastage continuously, Lean makes the processes more efficient.This in turn lowers the cost of production and operations. Lower costs translate into higher profits for the owners and shareholders of the business.

Six Sigma is about continuously improving the processes so that defect-free high quality products can come out. A Six Sigma process is one that churns out defect-free products 99.9997 percent of the times. This means that in a production run of 1 million output units, only 3.4 units turn out to be defective. The defect-free products due to Six Sigma mean higher customer satisfaction. Higher customer satisfaction usually translates into higher sales. Higher sales mean higher revenues. Also because the products are defect-free the cost of replacing defective products comes down. Both these factors – higher revenue and lower costs- translate into more profits for the owners of the business.

In spite of these benefits many small and midsized businesses do not implement Lean philosophy and Six Sigma. One major reason for this is lack of awareness about Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma among the owners and management of such businesses.

Another reason lies in cynicism of business owners and managers. They tend to dismiss Lean and Six Sigma as fanciful fads that are not worth the time and expenditure required. Obviously these people are driven by prejudices and gut feeling and not by available data about the benefits accrued to companies from these two philosophies.

Some businesses suffer from the fallacy that implementation of Lean and Six Sigma is very costly and hence they are suitable for large organizations only. The truth is that these two philosophies are as beneficial for small businesses as they are for large ones. Another common fallacy is that these two philosophies are applicable only to manufacturing organizations. Actually they have been applied successfully by many service organizations to deliver high quality, error-free customer service at lowest possible costs. The core of Lean and Six Sigma is process oriented approach. This approach is equally applicable to manufacturing and service organizations.

Some business owners and managers are simply too conservative and are driven by fear of the unknown. But if you own a business and you are too conservative then nothing is more suitable for you than Lean and Six Sigma. Don’t be afraid. Go and try it. You may soon be laughing all the way to banks.

STATISTICAL & MATHEMATICAL MODELING

compassMathematical & Statistical modeling are widely used in the industry for various purposes. There usage has been increased drastically in Quality & Analytics domain over a period of time. Now days various companies are using these things for new product development, baking artificial intelligence into new the developments & many more. It brings a value to the product because over a general thinking it gives a new ways of decision making to the management & helps them in taking the strategic decisions.

Various products have been launched which have made these models very simple & easy to use. Even with minor training users can deploy the models very effectively. Even in small businesses this is of a good use. Learning Statistics can help businesses to go for forecasting for planning and taking decisions on a certain hypotheses created. In Stats, we get meaningful information from huge amount of raw data and make a decision about nature of a population based on a sample taken. In a simple Statistics we do estimating the population based on the sample.

The aim of learning Statistics is to understand and be able to interpret statistical calculations performed by others. Uses of statistics in Business are everywhere; such as Quality, Market Research, Planning of new products, Reporting, Human Resourcing, Management, Reporting & many more. Now days its usage has been extended to gaming like casinos, Cricket matches predictions. Based on the data only every event can be predicted. Many natural disasters that were unavoidable can also be predicted with good accuracy & this is the magic of statistical & mathematical modeling only.

The things that were not possible few years back like detecting the cancer in human body is now very well possible using these models. Every industry is making use of it & getting the benefits. As a user & a teacher of Statistics I would like to recommend everyone to learn it & gets it in flavor in the common ways of working.

Can Six Sigma Kill Innovation ?

Innovation_WideIn today’s competitive business environment, innovation has become the biggest source of competitive advantage for many companies. Innovation means coming out with a completely new product or product feature or service that was not seen before. Innovation can also be in the area of processes too where a business creates a completely new process of doing things.

Companies like Google and Apple have gained their competitive advantage through innovation. Google came out with a highly sophisticated search engine for the first time (it was not the first to come with a search engine though) while Apple came up with a smartphone that had features not seen before.

In order for a company to become innovative, the first step is to define what the business means by innovation. Once innovation has been defined from the perspective of the business and its needs, the resources required for supporting innovation should be provided to employees. These resources include investments in research & development capabilities. For instance Google provides its employees with sophisticated research laboratories and other tools required for research in the area of information technology.

The leadership of the business should show complete support for employees who have a creative outlook. If new ideas fail on implementation then such failure should be treated as a learning experience and not as a failure. Innovative organizations tend to have a very positive attitude towards failure.If a business wants to become innovative then it should not be too control-oriented. It should give freedom of thought and expression to employees. Employees should not be afraid in expressing their ideas to their superiors and seniors. Therefore businesses having a democratic style of leadership are more successful at innovation while those having an authoritarian style are less successful.

Practices like mapping of all the new ideas that are generated in the organization can go a long way in increasing the rate of innovation. Too much emphasis on bureaucracy and formal plans about proposed new ideas can have the effect of stifling innovation.Some empirical evidence suggests that organizations that are too much about Six Sigma and lean manufacturing may find their innovation rate slowing down.

Six sigma and other process improvement tools are to be applied on existing processes. Their principles cannot be applied in the area of innovation. So businesses will do well if they do not try to apply the established principles of Six Sigma on new ideas and concepts. When a new product or service idea comes up and the idea looks feasible enough to be implemented then it should be implemented. If it succeeds the business will prosper; if it fails then the business would become wiser.

Why do Six Sigma initiatives sometimes fail?

 

six-sigmaImprovement projects like Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing aim at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of processes used in an organization. These initiatives have brought tremendous gains for a large number of companies, like say GE for instance. But a study published in Wall Street Journal claims that 60% of corporate six sigma initiatives fail in achieving the desired results.

 

There are a number of reasons why many six sigma initiatives fail in achieving the desired results. An important reason is that after the initial enthusiasm, employees lose their motivation and go back to old ways of doing things. They do well as long as the six sigma expert assigned to them is there. Once the six sigma expert leaves them to their own, the team members tend to lose their motivation to continue with the six sigma ways.Therefore it is necessary that six sigma experts should continue working with a team for an extended period of team, say one year or two years. If small businesses find the cost of having full time six sigma experts too much they can use part-time services of these experts. There are a number of six sigma consultancies in India which offer part-time services of six sigma experts. Also, before a six sigma expert leaves the team permanently, adequate training should be provided to managers so that they are able to continuously motivate team members to keep implementing the six sigma ways.

 

Another reason is that performance appraisal of improvement team members is often not tied to goals of the improvement project. Performance appraisal should be tied to the goals of improvement projects like six sigma and lean manufacturing. When employees get rewarded continuously for achieving the improvement project goals, then they are likely to keep striving continuously for achieving those goals.Improvement teams should be small; they should not have too many members. When there are too many members in an improvement team then the probability of conflict of interest increases. The ideal size of a process improvement team should be between six and eight members.

 

Last, but not the least, the key executives of the company should actively participate in the improvement projects rather than simply supporting them. This way they would be able to continuously monitor the implementation of the improvement principles over a long period of time.The goal of Six Sigma, Lean manufacturing and other such improvement initiatives is to bring a long lasting improvement in the processes of the organization. If they are able to bring only short-term, temporary changes then they would be deemed a failure and nothing else!

 

Avoiding financial disasters with Six Sigma

Financial-crisis-2008Operational risks are quite common in the area of financial services. Financial services include everything from banks to various other financial intermediaries. Financial services play a very important role in the economy. Therefore failure of any major financial services provider, like a big bank, causes considerable pain for the larger economy.

 

This was seen once again during the 2008 financial crisis when investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and was subsequently liquidated. The cause of 2008 financial crisis was pinned down to failure in risk management at major banks and investment banks, like Lehman Brothers.

 

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS), located in Basel, Switzerland, is the international banking regulator. It sets the operational and risk management norms for banks across the world. The BIS has recommended that by using Six Sigma, banks and other financial institutions can greatly improve their operational risk management. Operational risk in a bank can be frauds, breach of rules and processes relating to operations, impairment of physical assets or impairment of the technological infrastructure.

 

Six Sigma strives for reducing variation in processes. This means that it strives for setting standard operating processes. Standardization of operating processes reduces the risk of failure in implementation of operational practices. Six Sigma also strives for continuous improvement of processes. Continuous improvement in operational processes at financial institutions can greatly reduce operational risks.

 

One major Six Sigma tool is Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA). The FMEA can be applied effectively for managing operational risk at financial institutions like banks. The FMEA tool basically involves documenting the failure points of a process. The risks associated with each failure point are then prioritized on the basis of the damage or harm that can be brought by materialization of that risk. Once the risk prioritization has been done , risk mitigation plan is made. By applying these steps of FMEA to processes at financial institutions, the operational risks can be brought down considerably.

 

Key risk indicators (KRIs) are another Six Sigma tool that can be applied for making risk management at financial services more effective. The KRIs can be plotted on a control chart. The frequency of occurrence of a KRI can give an idea about the probability of the risk getting materialized. Early identification of a risk is one of the most effective ways of risk management.

 

In days to come increasing number of banks and other financial institutions are likely to apply Six Sigma for risk management. There is no stopping for Six Sigma it seems – from the manufacturing workshops it is now spreading into the august vaults of banks.