Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Automation: TQM Perspective

Quality has two perspectives - Validation & Verification.

In validation, we are checking Are we building the right thing? Basically, we are checking for conformance to customer requirements and quality attributes.

In verification, we are checking Are we building the thing right? We are more concerned about the process conformance and quality activities. Verification is more on the TQM side.

Automation provides a lot of benefits like: Repeatability, Predicability, Higher productivity, Lower costs, Shorter cycle times, Faster turn arounds, Higher confidence, and Insurance against human blunders. So, in reality Automaiton is nothing but means to achieve higher quality of processes and hence higher quality of products.

All processes that are part of Application Life-Cycle Management (ALM) must be automated to assure repeatability and keep processes in-control.

Starting form the requirements to bug-filing - everything should be automated.

  • Central Requirements Management
  • Automated unit, integration and functional testing
  • Central Code Repository, Version Control
  • Automated Request to Integrate Process
  • Automated builds (Nightly, weekly)
  • Automated Deployment
  • Automated installation of TestWare
  • Automated testbed setup and configuration
  • Automated Test execution (Functional & Non-functional both)
  • Automated Reporting
  • Automated Bug-filing!!
  • CRM Solutions - Customer escalation management
  • Project Program Management
  • End-to-End Integration and Data flow
Well, that is the ideal scenario. The closer we can get, the more successfull we are with our automation initiative. It you are a TQM fan, you'd agree that we need to improve our processes and build more quality into them which inturn will improve our product quality.

Automation has following benefits, which goes hand-in-hand with TQM benefits:
  • Provides a big picture of the overall process
  • Achieve higher adoption rates (CAP)
  • Easy to agree on standards
  • Data Archiving leads to Data Mining Possibilities
  • Historical data archives helps in decision making
  • Provides Process Traceability
  • Reports can reflect exact process state
  • Treand reports can help in gaining process maturity
  • Easy to monitor overall process
  • Email alerts in case the process goes Out-of-control
  • Defies Dilbert Model
  • Brings Focus and Accountability
  • Boosts Productivity
  • Reduces Costs
  • Saves Time
  • Higer Process Quality leads to Higher Product Quality
  • Easy to articulate SUCCESS
As I said before, it may not be possible to automate 100% of any process, but the closer we get, the better it is. Automation is like investing in infrastructure. The more solid our infrastructure is, more high we can rise. "We can't build an Empire State Building on a 6-inch foundation." If we want to achive high quality in our products, then we really need to have a very strong foundation, i.e very stable and high quality processes; and one way to achieve that is via Automation.

Final Thought:
Automation does not start and finish with Test Automation.

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