Managing Quality of Software: Road to Six Sigma

Article

Stott, Daniel R.   (1991, ASQC)   IBM Corporation, Kingston, NY

Annual Quality Congress, Milwaukee WI    Vol. 45    No. 0
QICID: 9733    May 1991    pp. 734-739
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Article Abstract

This paper shows how to use six sigma concepts to improve software development processes and to encourage a synergistic partnership between software and quality professionals. The author modifies the definition of Six Sigma, which is traditionally based on fewer than 3.4 failures per million opportunities, to 3.0 failures per million and cites several advantages of simplifying the Failure Per Million Opportunities (FPMO).

Since many software development teams have hundreds of members, every communication, procedure or task represents an opportunity for failure; therefore, each individual must strive for low failure rates. Motorola has identified six steps for achieving Six Sigma (3 FPMO) performance in software development: (1) Identify the product you create or service you provide; (2) Identify the Customer(s) for your product or service, and determine what they consider important; (3) Identify your suppliers and what you need from them; (4) Define the process by which you produce your product or service; (5) Design your process to make it mistake proof and eliminate wasted effort; and (6) Ensure continuous improvement of your process by measuring, analyzing, and controlling the improved process.

Opportunities for improvement are processes, tasks, or procedures with high failure rates. The amount of improvement can be represented as a ratio derived by comparing the "baseline" failure rate to the new failure rate. Improvement results in a greater likelihood of meeting requirements.

Keywords

Computers,Parts per million (ppm),Performance objectives,Quality assurance (QA),Six Sigma,Software


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