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Part V: Process Improvements > Quality by Increments

Chapter 33. Quality by Increments

Whether it's “Total Quality Management,” “Continuous Process Improvement,” or ISO, most current notions of process and product quality emphasize enterprise-wide commitment to quality with heavy investment for long-term payoffs. Elaborate schemes for assessing and increasing “process maturity,” such as the well-known Capability Maturity Model of the Software Engineering Institute, may have big payoffs, but they can also require a major commitment of resources just to get started (Humphrey, Snyder, Willis 1991) and may have unintended consequences (Bollinger and McGowan 1991). For the greatest, most enduring gains, substantial restructuring and comprehensive quality assurance programs may be necessary, but there are also small, practical steps that can be taken to yield immediate and substantial payoffs in terms of improved software quality and project performance.

Modest changes in how work is organized and carried out can dramatically affect quality in software development. These approaches are not based on technology; they do not involve computer-aided software engineering, object-oriented repositories, new life-cycle methodologies, expert systems for software metrics, statistical quality control, or any of a myriad of other allegedly advanced technical fixes. These steps all go back to basics, to the basic fact that even in high technology it is people who do the work. These approaches have in common that they look to how people and work are organized and managed. Most of these are things that can be put into practice almost immediately without large investments in training, tools, or inspirational posters.


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