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Planning for improved product quality

Posted: 10 Mar 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Testing  verification  TIEMPO  Test and Evaluation Master Plan  Reliability testing 

Testing and verification are not the only ways by which product quality can be ensured. Testing is but a fraction of the techniques that are at an organisation's disposal to improve their development quality. Good planning of the product incarnations; that is, a phased and incremental delivery of the feature content, makes it possible for an organisation to employ test, inspections, and evaluation as tools for competitive advantage. To really improve (and prove product quality), a more comprehensive approach is required (figure 1).

Described in this article is the Test, Inspection & Evaluation Master Plan Organised (TIEMPO) which extends the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) specified in IEEE 1220 and MIL-STD-499B (Draft) to support product quality.

Figure 1: Key elements in supporting product design and delivery are the use of test, inspection and evaluation at every step of the process.

TIEMPO expands the concept of a Test and Evaluation Master Plan by focusing on staged deliveries with each product/process release being a superset of the previous release. We can consider these iterations our development baselines closely linked to our configuration management activities. Each package is well defined; likewise the test, inspection and evaluation demands are well defined for all iterations. Ultimately, the planned product releases are coordinated with evaluation methods for each delivery. Under TIEMPO the inspections are:

Philosophy of the Master Plan
At its core, TIEMPO assists in coordinating our product functional growth. Each package has a defined set of contents, to which our entire battery of quality safeguarding techniques will be deployed. This approach—defined builds of moderate size and constant critique—has a very agile character, allowing for readily available reviews of the product.

In addition, TIEMPO reduces risk by developing superset releases wherein each subset remains relatively untouched. Most defects will reside in the new portion (the previously developed part of the product or process is now a subset and proven defect-free).

Should the previous iteration contain unresolved defects, we will have had the opportunity between these iterations to correct these defects. Frequent critical reviews are utilised to guide design and to find faults.

The frequent testing facilitates quality growth and reliability growth and gives us data from which we can assess the product readiness level (should we launch the product). Experience suggests the following benefits arise:
 • Well planned functional growth in iterative software and hardware packages
 • Ability to prepare for test (known build content), inspection and evaluation activities based upon clearly-identified packages
 • Linking test, inspection and evaluations to design iterations (eliminate testing or inspecting items that are not there)
 • Reduced risk
 • Identification of all activities to safeguard the quality—even before material availability and testing can take place
 • Ease of stakeholder assessment, including customer access for review of product evolution and appraisal activities

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