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Reinventing ZERO Defect in Software Development

- Rajesh Kumar Singh, PMP, Mindtree


Global economy is passing through seesaw cycle since last couple of years, enterprises are conceptualizing strategically innovative products for roll out with faster pace with an affordable cost to consumer to bell the bad economic weather. In any industry, selling price of the product or services is

directly correlated to cost of input material, government taxes, other levies and anticipated margins. In the case of software products, human labor cost and cost of licensed software takes the larger share in the total pie of the costs.

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It could be brought down if people work at lower wage or pursue the technology companies to sell their software at lower cost but both these factors are external which could not be used to control the cost of products.

 

Entry barrier in the product development space is gradually coming down which is increasing the competition exponentially. Successful enterprises are continuously reinventing themselves and going for newer product suits and services with improved product life cycle and lower cost of ownership.

 

Management is relying more and more on successful projects to become innovative and more efficient. Transformation in  business is key to remain efficient and valued to the customer. Successful projects have become key success factor for survival and excellence of the organizations.

 

To support this strategy, Project Management and Software Engineering, two vital streams involved in the development of strategic products are becoming most

common approach. Success rate of projects across the industry is still lower than 40% which is not an encouraging indicator. Perfection in planning and execution is critical to minimize the cost of the products which is vital to rejuvenate the business. 

 

Relevance of Project management principles and processes need to be supported by software engineering concepts, organization and industry's baseline data and matrices more than ever. Role of project management and manager has become as a leader in the ecosystem of business transformation of the organization. Bringing synergy and  synchronization in these two streams is critical to bring efficiency in product development which are essential for successful roll outs in time and reduced cost of support which is essential for bringing the overall cost of ownership by the consumer. The software engineering need to be

backward integrated to Re- Architect the Project Management which is essential for Business Transformation and happiness in the mind of consumer in terms of cost and quality.

 

Challenges faced by Business

 

Currently the business is facing multidimensional issues in fulfilling the demand of the end consumer. Consumer is always demanding the product with very low cost of ownership, improved level of satisfaction and quick return on investment on the product.

 

Enterprises are taking the route of projects to come up innovative products which could transform the business. Business has few alternatives which could be taken to transform the business but core of the each alternative is to 

 

Improve the customer satisfaction

Approach the customer with consistency and confidence

Give the customer freedom of choice by offering product and services

Reduce the total cost of ownership by reduce post sale service requirements

 

Product and cost associated with Defects

 

A software malfunction can generate costs that are extremely large compared with the cost of system development. In a normal software project, 'Cost of Quality' (aka CoQ) is defined as the cost associated with - Negative Cost (Rework in fixing defects, Wasteful effort in developing non-conforming requirement, Unacceptable software) and Positive (Prevention, Appraisal) Cost.

 

Based on an Emerging theory of the Economics of software quality, there is serious need to look at the project management aspects which could impact the

Negative cost as well Positive cost of quality. As a normal industry standard CoQ of the project does varies in the range of 45% to 55 % of the total cost of the project. It is a big pie of the project cost which is just used to ensure good quality of the product or deliverables. 

 

As a general study, cost burden on the consumer due to bad quality and rework is around 18 to 22% of the total budget of the projects postdelivery. The current trend of CoQ on the product is relatively higher in software industry compared to other industries like manufacturing.

 

CoQ led Systematic Approach in Project Management

 

As per the software industry analysis, experienced programmers are producing software with about 100 defects per 1000 SLOC.

 

Professionally managed commercial companies are trying to remove at least 98% of these before delivery. Successful large project performance rate is still low (< 40%) but improving. Runaway or failed projects are still common (e.g. the cost of canceled projects in 1995 for the US IT industry was estimated at $81B.

 

To improve the CoQ, focus on 'Zero Defect'

 

'Zero defect' can be adapted to any situation, it is a philosophy, a thought or a movement. Zero defects is always discussed among the industry experts that if it is ever attainable. Zero defects are NOT about being perfect - it is about looking at the things differently:

 

Recognize the high cost of defects at the later phase of the execution cycle and post release of the product

 

Continuously think of the places and phases where cracks could be introduced.

 

Work proactively to address the cracks in systems and processes, which allow defects to occur.

 

Zero defects is a bench mark, it is a measure against which any system, process, action, or outcome can be analyzed. Zero defects is the goal, every aspect of the business could be subject to scrutiny to see the scale of deviation from the bench mark.

 

In general, software product development is dependent on well-coordinated synchronized behavior of People, Process and Technology. 

 

It has been successfully demonstrated by the manufacturing industry to achieve Zero Defect to help the organizations to transform their business. The payoff in the software development is very high, 30% to 50% of the product life cycle cost is wasted as the cost of poor quality. The effective alignment of project management principles with Software engineering processes guides and ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the process which helps to preserve the scarce resource which is fed back in the retained earnings kitty of the enterprises which is used to brings transformation in the business even in the stormy economic condition. Zero Defect approach is capable to reduce the cost of the product by almost by 30% in the software industry through adhering to the basics of the software engineering.