The Changing Role Of "Software And Software Quality Consulting"

Kris Puthucode, CEO & Principal Consultant, Software Quality Center LLC.

Kris Puthucode, CEO & Principal Consultant, Software Quality Center LLC.Today’s emphasis on Quality in organizations has evolved to one being a proactive approach to having Quality practices “built in” to each step of product development or service delivery as opposed to getting involved at the end of product development to test it. Having said that, there are many companies that still compete fiercely in markets with the global economy, and hence have to only weigh to “push the product out of the door” into the market, rather than do a great job in Quality. There are still lots of C-level executives and Engineers that believe in a “just find & fix” approach” for any defect, so the best way is to get the product out first and then deal with defects and such later.

From being not known as anything more than Quality=Testing, back in 80s and 90’s to evolving as a sought after profession by itself, several certifications for personnel (such as ASQ® certifications, ISACA®, CMMI Institute, SEI, ISO and similar), and the wide variety of models and standards to guide organizations to use best practices in all aspects of their business, resulting in better quality and business performance.

While the current global economy stresses more on delivering faster, and cheaper, often times what is comprised is to deliver better (better quality). This puts a focus on time to market versus having an exceptional client experience or product and that leads to cutting costs, and taking shortcuts to quality.

“Issues that need attention in the current global economy include Agile transformation, Quality Assurance and management in the context of AI & IOT, and most importantly, Cybersecurity”

The large variety of service providers in this area focused initially on helping organizations grapple software testing. There are a plethora of companies that forayed into independent testing., and those that perform testing alone as a set of services. That is thriving as a business and many industries especially regulated industries are getting a real advantage in having their products vetted by third parties.

Mid to late 1990’s saw the growth and re-emphasis of focus on building things right., and trying to focus on using the concept of “Prevention” vs. “Correction” in the software and IT services industry. Many organizations especially in outsourcing destinations such as India, China, Philippines etc., pursued this as a potential selling point and a differentiator. Exactly at that time, the rise of models and standards in the software industry also saw a general increase and attention. One of the major models for quality and process improvement specifically built for software engineering was the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) ® that was developed as a result of a US Dept. of Defense funded research project. This model captivated the attention of not only Defense and Aerospace which tend to me more regulated industry, but also plethora of IT outsourcing companies and multinationals. The model was used successfully by several Indian companies such as CITIL. Mastek, Wipro, Infosys etc., and led to many smaller organizations following suit, perhaps led by peer pressure. To-date, the model has been improved and rechristened as the new CMMI V2.0 model under the sponsorship and stewardship of CMMI Institute, as a subsidiary of ISACA ® - the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. Over 10000+ organizations around the world use this model as the preferred choice for quality assurance and performance improvement.

Similar models that exist for various areas of the business include Business Development (BD-CMM)®., Data Maturity Model (DMM) Smart Grid Maturity Model, Resilience Management Model from the SEI (RMM) and so on. The role of the software quality consultant has also evolved in these decades.

The critical success factor of a consultant in this profession is to transgress being focused solely on software quality and a keen willingness to engage with clients to listen to their issues and recommend custom solutions, as opposed to what is out of the box available in models and standards.

Issues that need attention in the current global economy include Agile transformation, Quality Assurance and management in the context of AI & IOT, and most importantly, Cybersecurity.