Sunday, May 22, 2016

Do It Right the First Time
Sometime during the testing phase of your project, if not latter, a defect, an error is found. The project is put on hold until the problem(s) are corrected. Now you are behind schedule and possibly over budget.  You hear the staff saying, “We never have time to do it right but always seem to have time to fix it.” I’ve said it as an engineer and heard it numerous times as a manager. It got me wondering what is there in the program quality tool box that could help this all too common situation.  Engineers will want to take forever and program managers will want it yesterday, tomorrow if you are lucky.
The answer, peer inspections.  These are sometimes called reviews, audits, or walk through. It doesn't matter what they are called.  It matters that you have them and they are set up and done correctly.  I will use the term inspection as it sounds more formal and that is just what it needs to be, formal. Having inspections in the development phase allows for rapid design with the knowledge that errors and defects will be caught before anything is built.
There are 3 main parts of the inspection;
1)      Set up – Possibly the most critical step. Picking the participants for the inspection will lead to success or failure. Giving the participants preparation time with the inspection material is also critical
2)      Conduct the inspection – Seems simple enough and if you have a good inspection leader, it is. Once again I like what CMMI® says about inspections. “The focus of the peer review should be on the work product in review, not on the person who produced it.”  
3)      Review the results – This should be easy but it isn't.  The easy part, errors and defects have been found and can be corrected before time and money is spent on fabrication.  The hard part, inappropriate use of the inspection data. You want to know how to stifle inspections and cause the process to be abandoned? Have some manager, functional or program, start to use the results in performance evaluation.  And that is just one inappropriate use I have seen.

Inspections are not to be the end all to Program Quality, but without them, your chances of doing it right the first time are slim and none.