Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shocking to see some of the best companies in the news recently for wrong reasons

Some of the best companies are in the news recently for wrong reasons.

Washington Post article on Walmart bribery charges

Infosys is under investigation for fraud charges

Is Goldman Sachs cheating customers?

These companies (i.e. Top management) are suspected to have demonstrated unethical behavior. These companies are growing their customer base and expanding into emerging and developed economies.

Are rapid growth and greed causing the top management to ignore ethical practices?

Do these companies have ethics and compliance departments? If so, what role these departments play in preventing such unethical behavior?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

25 years of ISO 9000

 borawski's blog provided an excellent statistic on ISO 9000 certification.

"According to the International Organization for Standardization, as of 2009, the total number of organizations certified to ISO 9000 exceeded one million!"
How many of these organizations are meeting the real goals of ISO 9000 certification? How many of these are getting certification just to satisfy their suppliers or to attract investments or to use certification as a marketing tool?
There are several studies done to analyze the linkage between ISO 9000 certification and overall value provided to stakeholders. These conclusions contradict each other. 
Here is the summary of conclusions.
1. ISO 9000 certification alone does not benefit the organization. ISO 9000 certification that is driven by internal motivation benefits the organizations to continuously improve and provides real long term value to stakeholders.
2. ISO 9000 certification alone benefits the organization. ISO 9000 certification that is driven by any type of motivation leads to improvement of processes and this leads to improved productivity, cycle time, and customer satisfaction.
3. ISO 9000 certification does not add any value and is expensive. It is easy to pay money to a consulting company to get ISO certification.
All these conclusions are valid depending on the circumstances of the sample organizations analyzed. These samples may not represent the population or there are major threats to validity. So, conclusions can't be applied to population without analyzing other factors and interactions.
My opinion/observation => 
Each organization is unique. ISO 9000 alone can't guarantee value to stakeholders but implementing quality models such as ISO 9000 with the appropriate commitment, right mindset and right change management culture can really make a difference. 

Test Driven Development?

Test driven development is a test-first approach. Developer writes a test even before starting coding.

Microsoft is promoting this concept and appears to be investigating heavily to promote this concept.

Microsoft TDD

There is no scholarly research done so far to support the hypothesis that test driven development improves cycle time, productivity, and quality.

Visual Studio nicely supports the test driven development.

As stated in the Microsoft website, Test Driven Development follows three phase approach.

1. Red - Developer first creates a test to make it fail

2. Green - Developer develops code to make the test pass

3. Re-factor - Developer modifies the code to remove duplication and improves the design while ensuring that all tests pass

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Robust design - Design of experiments

Robust design focuses on creating a design that selects input variables in order to minimize the impact of noise factors (uncontrollable variables) on responsible variable.

There are three types of design.

1. Concept design
2. Parameter design
3. Tolerence design

In terms of cost of (poor) quality, lack of robust design may lead to external failure costs such as loss of customers, loss of reputation, recalls, lawsuits, and warranty claims.

The goal is to choose an optimal robust design that is cost-effective with the quickest time-to-market.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quality in Services

Quality is not limited to manufacturing industry. Services contribute to 80% of the world wide economy and more and more products are being sold as bundled products and services.
Quality and Lean Six Sigma tools are used in service industries such as healthcare and education to improve the performance, outcomes and stakeholder satisfaction. Few of the US republican presidential candidates pledged to use Six Sigma to reduce waste in the government spending and to improve the overall performance of government organizations.

Design of Experiments

Response Surface Methodology (RSM) is a collection of statistical and mathematical models to optimize the response variable.

Here is a great lecture from MIT Open courseware.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Innovation can be broadly classified into three types listed below.

1. Consumer driven  Innovation => This type of innovation is based on necessity to address the needs of  consumers. This is typically carried out by private organizations such as IBM or public organizations such as Department of Defense.

2. Non-consumer driven Innovation  => This type of innovation is based on passion by researchers, thinkers, and practitioners to advance knowledge and skills. This is typically carried out in the laboratories and the universities.

3. Hybrid (Consumer and Non-consumer) innovation => This type of innovation may start as non-consumer driven innovation and may morph into or gets integrated with consumer driven innovation. This type of innovation may also start as consumer driven innovation and may morph into or gets integrated with non-consumer driven innovation.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Quality Circles

Total Quality Management

Cost of Quality

What is cost of quality?

Cost of quality is the cost of lack of quality or the cost of poor quality.

Cost of quality can be classified as

1. Prevention costs

2. Appraisal costs

3. Internal failure costs

4. External failure costs

If everyone can deliver products and services right the first time, there is no need to spend any money one cost of poor quality. In real world situation, this does not happen.

Have you seen a software project that has cost of quality as zero? Service industries such as Software are not as mature as manufacturing industries. Even in manufacturing industries, we don't see any product that has cost of quality as zero.

As the cost of quality exponentially increases from prevention to appraisal to internal failure to external failure, organizations that focus on reducing cost of (poor) quality spend more money on prevention to reduce the overall quality costs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Best Buy Leadership change?

Here is another example. Best Buy CEO (Mark Dunn) abruptly resigns.

If you can't keep up with the latest trends, strategies and technologies, you are out of business. You can't continue to use the same old strategies and methodologies in the ever changing global marketplace. Companies and CEOs must learn, adopt and adapt to the changing needs of consumers.

Who are the competitors and what is the key differentiator?

The main competitors are

1. Amazon
2. Walmart
3. Costco

The key differentiator is business strategy (Add value by making use of the latest trends and technologies and continue to offer the lowest possible prices to the consumer.)

Masters Programs in Quality Management - Information

Graduate programs in Quality Management

Arizona State University - M.E. Quality & Reliability
also, M.S. Industrial Engineering with Q&R emphasis

Eastern Michigan University - M.S. Quality Management

Southern Polytechnic - M.S. Quality Assurance

Upper Iowa University - MBA Quality Management

East Carolina University - M.S. Technology Systems emphasis on Quality Systems

California State University - Dominguez Hills - M.S. Quality Assurance

Bemidjii State University - M.S. Industrial Technology (seems to have an emphasis on quality)

University of Tennessee - M.S. Reliability & Maintainability Engineering

University of Maryland - M.E. Reliability

Purdue University - M.S. Industrial Engineering w/quality emphasis or quality systems emphasis

Are Quality Professionals Happy On the Job?

Forbes says, “Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product…Software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

The happiest job of all isn't kindergarten teacher or dentist. It is software quality assurance engineer. Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product. This can include processes such as requirements gathering and documentation, source code control, code review, change management, configuration management, release management, and the actual testing of the software, explains Matt Miller, chief technology officer at CareerBliss.


It is good to see quality professionals to be on the top of the list. However, this survey findings lack some key fundamentals if we view this from the perspective of quality professional.

1. The job description of software quality assurance engineer stated is not correct. Software quality assurance engineers develop processes, procedures, methods, and techniques. Software quality assurance engineers do not usually get involved in quality control activities such as code review and the actual testing of the software. Software quality control engineers get involved in code reviews and the actual testing of the software.
Software quality assurance is not same as software quality control. The job description combined some QA and QC activities.

2. There is no information on survey methodology, demographics surveyed and threats to validity. I don't know if I can trust any  survey conclusions without such basic information.

3. Correlation is not causation. I don't think we can accept the conclusion that software quality assurance engineer is the happiest job.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

How do we Sell Quality?

I agree with Dr. Vora that it is important to sell value to stakeholders. Value addition is a multi-dimensional concept that contributes to triple bottom line (people, planet and profits).

1. Deliver better products and services to customers at a lower cost.

2. Charge suppliers as little as possible.

3. Pay employees better wages, provide them with safe working environment and  infrastructure to perform their jobs better, faster, and smarter way, help them improve competencies, and help them grow within the organization.

4. Deliver profits and better rate of return to owners, board of directors, and stockholders through better return on investments (Long term and Short term).

5. Make a positive impact on society by being socially responsible organization

Reference -


Quality Lessons - Organized presentations


Current Trends - Agile Development

Quality Management System

Deming Way

Deming Way

Thoughts on Quality Improvement

Quality improvement benefits need to be reviewed from the perspective of W. Edwards Deming’s chain reaction:

1. Improving quality leads to decreased
2. Decreased costs lead to productivity
3. Productivity improvements lead to
increased market share, better product
quality and lower price.
4. Increased market share leads to staying
in business and creating more jobs.1

The real motivation for implementing quality standards should be continuous quality improvement and customer satisfaction.
Some organizations implement QMS frameworks and standards for the wrong reasons