As the stage was set with the first two blog posts of this series based on a paper that Rik and I presented in the 6th World Congress for Software Quality in this blog post we show how to design a quality improvement strategy that follows the Deming Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act .
The starting point is an initial analysis of the current situation to identify weaknesses in the lifecycle activities and thus possible improvements. On that basis the first improvement plan is created.
ANALYSIS OF THE STATUS QUO (THE “AS IS” SITUATION)
The first step in order to design the quality improvement strategy is an analysis of the current state of the application lifecycle. This step is necessary to achieve a fit for purpose solution according to the customer’s needs. In order to perform the analysis as cost efficient as possible this step is subdivided in two analysis steps:
- Preliminary analysis
- Detailed analysis
PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS USING THE QUALITY OPTIMIZATION SCAN (QOS) 
The QOS is a questionnaire based analysis method to quickly scan the observed process in order to find the main “pain” points (areas where the customer is feeling the most resource strain or pressure and usually where the most needed improvements are to be found). The result is a high level and summarized set of recommendations to optimize the application lifecycle – the desired “To Be” situation.
The QOS consists of the following steps:
1. Determine the participants – The participants of the QOS have to represent all stakeholders of the application lifecycle in order to get a holistic view of the current situation.
2. Kick off – In a kick off meeting all participants are informed about the method and the timeline, as well as introduced to the questionnaire.
3. Answering the questionnaire – The participants answer the QOS questionnaire which consists of questions regarding operational quality assurance, knowledge management and company culture to get an integrated picture of all quality relevant issues.
4. Evaluation of the results – The answers are evaluated and the results displayed in a radar diagram.
5. Determination of the “pain” points – Taking all results into account an average score can be calculated. All areas below this average are possible areas of improvement, which are documented in a so-called, “improvement backlog”.
6. Verification of the results – The results of the QOS, including proposed improvements, are verified by presenting them to the relevant stakeholders.
DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE MAIN AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
The QOS only gives an idea regarding possible areas of improvement. In order to design the quality improvement strategy and to derive the concrete activities to achieve the goals defined in this strategy, a closer look to determine which will be the high prioritized areas of improvement is necessary. Therefore, many more sophisticated and specialized (and therefore more complex and costly) analysis methods are available depending on the area to be focused on. The following list gives some examples of methods that can be applied in this context:
- Root Cause Analysis – Deductive method to analyze defects in order to find their source.
- Failure Mode and Effect Analysis – Inductive method to find possible defect insertion points.
- Software development improvement models such as e.g. CMMI® or SPICE®
- Test process improvement models such as e.g. TPI NEXT®
If you want to know more on the Quality Optimization Scan, other analysis methods or the PointZERO vision in general you can contact Rik Marselis or me via Expert Connect or order our book on PointZERO and Quality Supervision here.
 Deming, W. Edwards, Out of the crisis, MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Studies, 1986
 Balemans, Arno and Rik Marselis, Quality Supervision, Sogeti Nederland B.V., 2013