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Jerry van Dijk <[log in to unmask]>
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Jerry van Dijk <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 21 Dec 1998 23:59:51 +0100
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> Processes which eliminate errors are expensive. However, they
> are worth it if the cost of removing errors is expensive or the
> costs of unremoved errors is high (medical equipment, flight
> control, etc.).

Yes, of course. You need to strike the right balance for the organization
and product(s) involved. Sometimes that means a rigid and expensive
approach. At other times implementing simple quality records in a
Notes database.

> If errors are inexpensive to remove, occur infrequently and
> either are all removed or don't incur significant cost in
> operation, then certain processes might not be needed.

Agreed again. A process (or method, for that matter) is no excuse
for not using basic common sense. I've seen to much paper produced
and time wasted because "we were required to do so".

> For example, several forms of peer review show extremely high
> improvements in quality for relatively low cost. So this form
> of process improvement is used both formally and informally
> throughout the industry (and is included in CMM, although too
> imprecisely to assure repeatable results):
>   Software Inspection (An Industry Best Practice), Wheeler,
>   Brykczynski, Meeson. 1996

Yes, Wheeler's software inspection can be a very good tool. But
I have also seen projects in which he himself was involved fail
because of a overly formal approach.

> Ahhhhhh, well I am open to suggestions. Make sure the correlation
> is between CMM level and an objective measurement of cost and
> quality. The basic literature as of 1997 is very scant on details
> (as is most of our e-mail) and lacked control or measurement over
> most variables. Maybe I'm unaware of some recent study which has
> settled the issue. I'll await everyone's more expert recommendation.

I run into the common problem here, that I have result of studies that
were performed by one of my clients, but that I cannot use because of
client confidentiality. Sounds lame, I know.

Since there seem to be some interest in this subject, I will try to use
our discussion to draw the person responsible for this study in.

Basically what he did was implement a level 3 KPA in part of the organization
and monitor another project that didn't use it. Than he made a cost
comparison, using a carefully weighted function point analysis to to do
the comparison. This was repeated several times for several KPA's.
This particular organization is now firmly committed to SPI.

> The question is what processes (CMM characterizes a class of
> processes) cause higher quality and lower cost and in what context.

If I knew the answer to this, I would be writing the next bestseller :-)