A Holistic Approach To Shift Left (Part 5/5)

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This is the last article of the series based on a paper that Rik and I presented in the 6th World Congress for Software Quality. The last time I shared some thoughts on the implementation of our shift left approach as a project. There series now will be concluded with some important supporting ideas which will […]

This is the last article of the series based on a paper that Rik and I presented in the 6th World Congress for Software Quality. The last time I shared some thoughts on the implementation of our shift left approach as a project. There series now will be concluded with some important supporting ideas which will ease the implementation.

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

Knowledge management helps to embed the implemented measures in the organization for the long term. In order to preserve every improvement, small steps and the corresponding consolidation lead to the most effective result. Imagine the Deming wheel on the slope, with a wedge that shifts upward with every improvement, however small. The pace at which these steps are taken depends on the culture of the organization. In order to observe improvements and subsequently preserve them, the concept of ‘knowledge management’ is applied. Knowledge management concerns the administration of all relevant information of an organization with the aim of using this knowledge when it contributes to the business success. Knowledge management involves the entire process of collecting, sharing and consolidating this information (for details please refer to [1]). Knowledge management is also about the creation of an environment within which knowledge transfer is possible, stimulated and also genuinely takes place.

STAKEHOLDER SUPPORT AND THE RIGHT DOSAGE OF CHANGE

Quality measures must be taken as early as possible. But what is the right dosage of improvement? Should we apply all the measures at once? This most likely is a bad idea as change itself costs effort. Even if  positive effects are realized in the long run, such as a decrease in costs (see figure 1), in the short term the costs will rise. For example, investments in new tools and training staff may be needed. If all improvements are implemented simultaneously to address these needs right away, rather than handling them in an incremental manner, then the involved stakeholders could become insecure about the improvement results and may pull the plug from the whole improvement initiative. Also people involved may lose their view on improvement goals and the relation to improvement actions. This all leads to a return to the original situation, and jeopardizes the chances of subsequent improvement initiatives.

Figure 1 Preliminary end of improvements in a “big bang” scenario [1]

In order to prevent this situation, PointZERO follows a parallel and step-by-step approach. As a rule of thumb, three improvement measures are selected from the improvement backlog (see figure 2):
·         A quick win: achieve early benefits and show fast progress
·         A medium term change: to provide a useful improvement with high value
·         A long term change: because the real benefits are found in the long term, but often the implementation of long term changes are delayed because there’s no apparent immediate benefit
 
After an improvement is finished, (and the effect measured) the next improvement item from the same category is picked for implementation.

Figure 2 The parallel step-by-step approach [1]
 
Using the information in the improvement backlog and the measurements of the results the stakeholders are constantly informed of the way the improvement initiative contributes to the business success. This way, the parallel and step-by-step approach to improvement ensures stakeholder support for the continuous improvement initiative. The result of this strategy is visualized in figure 3.

Figure 3 Cost curve of the parallel step-by-step approach [1]

CONCLUSION: THE HOLISTIC VIEW LEADS TO MEASURABLE BUSINESS SUCCESS

During this blog series we have shown how to work towards a new way of collaboration between people and artifacts across the application lifecycle. By stimulating the right people to perform the right activities with the right information at the right moment in order to achieve the right result we improve the quality of all lifecycle activities to avoid rework.
Following our vision, an organization will reach the point where the focus shifts towards early lifecycle activities and the total effort required for creating and maintaining information systems, and for the supported business processes, is gradually reduced. This overarching vision, with the central role of quality supervision, leads to optimized application lifecycle activities, thus ending the waste of time and money and enabling a measurable increase in business success.

If you are interested in more information about our approach do not hesitate to contact Rik Marselis or me.

[1] Balemans, Arno and Rik Marselis, Quality Supervision, Sogeti Nederland B.V., 2013

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