02:13 PM
Connect Directly
Repost This

SmartAdvice: How To Turn The Budget Process Into A Value-Add

Here are some tips to make the annual budget process pay off year-round, The Advisory Council says. Also, a practical approach to quantifying software quality and tips on how to deal with a letter requesting you preserve information for a criminal investigation.

Topic B: How can I set up practical and measurable software-quality goals that will help guide my strategic planning?

Our advice: There's a lot of confusion about what constitutes quality software. I've seen definitions that embrace everything from "standards-compliant production" to "reliability," "usability" and various other "-ilities" (e.g., testability and modifiability). The problem with these definitions is that you can't go to your manager and say you need to invest $X million to increase a bunch of "-ilities," hence the need to quantify quality.

Assuming the purpose of quality in software is to satisfy customers (internal or external), then in re-formulating your definition of quality--what may be called "real quality"--consider the factors that contribute to customer satisfaction. Real quality may thus be defined in terms of the following five factors, weighted appropriately for your business:

  1. Accuracy of the original market and product-requirements analysis can be measured by the match between actual customer demand for the product and the software's predicted demand, given the same functionality and features.

  2. Utility of the product's functionality and performance is measured by how well those factors meet users' requirements in their specific business situation.

  3. Time-to-market and cost must be soon enough to keep customers interested, not allowing competitors to increase their market share. At the same time, the product must be affordable, and hence marketable.

  4. Pure quality (the absence of software defects) must be reflected in a product of sufficient quality to maintain customers' loyalty and enthusiasm.

  5. Attractiveness of implementation for intended users.

These five factors might then be valued as follows:

  1. Accuracy of market forecasts and value of concept formulation -- 30%

  2. Utility of product's functionality and performance -- 25%

  3. Time to market and cost -- 20%

  4. Pure quality -- 15%

  5. Attractive implementation -- 10%

When software is evaluated in terms of the above on a scale of 1 to 5 for each, where 1 reflects poor and 5 excellent quality, you can calculate its real quality index (RQI). RQI is the ratio:

RQI = P / Pmax

Where P is the specific-to-project sum of weighted factors, and Pmax = 5 is the possible maximum sum of weighted factors.

Let's consider an example to see how RQI works. A commercial software product is being developed that market research reports has:

  1. An average concept (i.e., a rating of 3), giving (3x0.3) or 0.9 points.

  2. All the requirements are met, giving (5x0.25) = 1.25 points;

  3. The product is affordable and delivered on time, giving (5x0.2) = 1.0 point;

  4. 'Pure' quality is average, giving (3x0.15) = 0.45 points; and

  5. Implementation is fair, giving (2x0.1) or 0.2 points.

In sum, therefore, this project rates 3.8 points of 5.0 possible for an RQI of 76%.

Is this approach practical? Quite. First, it's a good tool with which to compare products and projects from both the producers' and customers' points of view. Second, it locates responsibility and accountability for the quality of a product where it belongs. Third, it quantifies quality by rating the software in numerical terms.

-- Vladimir Tsivkin

2 of 3
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The Agile Archive
The Agile Archive
When it comes to managing data, donít look at backup and archiving systems as burdens and cost centers. A well-designed archive can enhance data protection and restores, ease search and e-discovery efforts, and save money by intelligently moving data from expensive primary storage systems.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.