GM Recalls 300,000 Trucks Due To Software Glitch
Delta Offers Dirt Cheap Airfares Because of Software Glitch
Infiniti Q50 Recalled For Steer-By-Wire Software Glitch
Target, Neiman Marcus Not Only Victims of Cyber Attacks
What do all of the above headlines have in common? It’s not what you think. The answer is that none of the companies named are “software companies.”
Unless you live in the middle of the desert and/or under a rock, from the moment you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night, your life is constantly touched by products and services driven by software. Unfortunately, this reality is now just starting to catch up with the providers of these products and services.
For example, General Motors, Chrysler and Infiniti are car makers, and when you look at their logos, you have an image of a physical product, be it a pick-up truck or luxury vehicle. You think, “Aaaah, that new car smell!” However, did you know that in the near future your car will contain more lines of code than the F-22 fighter jet? Between the Powertrain components, safety systems and infotainment systems, software is as important as tires for these vehicles to work. Automobiles are just one example; consider all of the other “things” in your life containing code … cell phones, refrigerators, airplanes, credit card machines, traffic lights, elevators, MRI machines, power stations, data centers, televisions, etc.
What’s the “so what?” Until corporations value their software as part of their brand and reflect that in their budgets, we as consumers will continue to be the test bed. There is ample room for interpretation on this point. As the old saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything turns into a nail.” Certainly I’m not suggesting companies developing mobile apps should scrutinize their software in the same way medical device manufacturers do. However, at a minimum, we expect companies to value their software as an essential asset and put a proper risk management process in place that fits the risk signature of the system to consumers.
At ProServices, we are currently working with a couple of Fortune 100 organizations in the early stages of putting together a holistic software quality strategy (Hallelujah Chorus!). Their approaches have similar foundations by addressing the challenges with People, Process, Technology, Standards, Data Management and Information Transparency. Another core principle in each of the initiatives is changing their posture from reactive to proactive by pushing their strategies to the frontlines at ground zero. These organizations have recognized that software is part of their brand and deserves the same amount of brain space and budget as the other aspects of their business.
There is no doubt in my mind that these organizations will soon be heads and tails above their competitors once they execute these strategies and realize the benefits to their bottom line. More importantly, this strategy will secure their brands from embarrassing failures, which would erode their positioning in the market.
Unlike popular belief, software doesn’t just happen. It really does require the same engineering principles from the likes of great contributors to the global quality movement, W. Edwards Demming, Joseph M. Juran, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa and Genichi Taguchi. I’m not suggesting that on day one we start porting Taguchi’s methods into software, but perhaps we can utilize lessons learned from incorporating their methods into other business disciplines, taking pieces of their work, as appropriate, to help all of us respect software as an important part of the products/services we offer to consumers.
PSC, Vice President