Thursday, June 17, 2004

Quality !

What's the big deal made out of Quality and Process Managements anyway ? My mind wandered back to the days when I was working for a large software firm, which shall remain un-named ( for the simple reason that I don't wanna get my a$$ sued ! ). When we fresh, eager students joined the firm, straight out of college, we were told that we would have to attend a series of *important* training sessions. As it happens, the first and the longest one, turned out to that of Quality and tools used to "measure quality and improve the process" in the coporate environment !!!

Well, this long, winding, boring sessions later ( which lasted a whole day, and after which being in a train-wreck seemed like a sweet option ), we were informed by the lady who was the Quality Manager for our department ( she looked vaguely familiar...was she the one who was talking and interrupting my attempts at sleep during the whole session ? ) informed us that we had to send in any feedback or improvements to her, so that future generations of recuitees can benefit ( Could have said "scrap it entirely"...yeah right, like we were gonna let them get away that easily ! ) from such sessions.

Anyways...a month or so later, she comes by my neighbouring cubicle and chats with the gentleman who resides there. I happen to overhear a most interesting snippet : "Thanks K____n, you were the only one who sent me feedback. I have now changed the color of the button from blue to pink. I hope that this satisfies you" !!! Aaargh ! this was the "feedback"...and it "helped" him and future generations ??? And it took her and her "team" a MONTH to get down to doing it ? Well, judging by all the stress on "quality" and process management, maybe what would happened was:
* She assigned the task of investigating the feasibility of doing a background study on changing the color to a team-member.
* He took 2 days to figure out if documents existed that explain the concepts of "color" and "button" and the procedure to change the color of the button.
* The manager then assigned him and another team member the task of reading all the relevant documents and understanding what "color" and "button" really mean, and how such tasks were under-taken before and what are the possibilities for undertaking such a venture.
* They take a week to do all the "studies" and then hold a presentation for the entire team, as part of a "knowledge-building" exercise. Here, they explain what "button" and "color" really mean, and also provide insights into how "blue" is different from "pink" and how a "blue button" can also be a "pink button".
* The entire team has a brainstorming session on the various possible methods to perform the transformation.
* The original two members are entrusted the task of coming up with a design and possible alternatives.
* A week later, a high-level design is ready, which undergoes peer review which lasts 2 days, and the design is finalised.
* Appropriate versions of the web-page and interface are checked out of the CVS repository for use by the team-members, and the actual transformation work starts.
* Meanwhile, The manager creates an excel graph and a powerpoint on the "Action Item" being undertaken by the team, to present to upper management.
* After much effort, between period of checking mail and chatting on y*hoo messenger, the work gets done in a week.
* Regression testing is done, test cases are written and evaluated and executed. Latent Bugs are fixed.
* The code is checked into the repository at the distant office location on the other side of the world.
* The next "release" of the tool will have the fix incorporated into it.
* A week or so later, the Manager walks up to the guy who gave the feedback, and tells him "Thanks K____n, you were the only one who sent me feedback. I have now changed the color of the button from blue to pink. I hope that this satisfies you".
* The "action item" is closed and the work goes on the team's list of accomplishments.
* Another team-member is chosen to document the whole process, to make future situations easier to deal with....

1 comment:

R.Nandakumar said...

yes. there are processes and processes to keep track of them and further super-processes to oversee them and so on...

somewhat like big infinitely recursive foodchain of fleas in some limerick i heard somewhere!