Applying Organizational Experiences to Produce Quality Software NEC is a leading global company…
Applying Organizational Experiences to Produce Quality Software
NEC is a leading global company that manufactures cutting edge products for the broadband networking and mobile Internet market. In 1981, NEC recognized the need to extend their quality control (QC) activity to the domain of software development. In order to accomplish this goal, the company established a company-wide corporate structure to assist employees in applying the principles of software quality control (SWQC). QC activities typically resulted in a case report that outlined the problem analysis, its possible root cause, the corrective actions taken, and the results of the corrective actions.
By 1991, the company had collected over 25,000 such cases in an effort to apply the productivity improvements across the organization. Initially the case reports were stored in a book and later in a searchable database, but people found it difficult to search and apply the QC cases. NEC then decided to implement the software quality control advisor (SQUAD),1 based on case-based reasoning methodology, to improve user access and application of the reported QC cases. The cases in SQUAD were nominated through a review committee that reviews each case and selects the best cases. Cases are selected on the basis of the quality of the analysis, significance of the results, and how generalizable the problem is.
Adequate incentives were established to encourage employee participation. Initially about 3,000 cases were submitted each year, and later new submissions decreased to about 1,000 cases a year. The significant drop in the rate of new cases submission came about because most typical cases were already reported in the system. By 1994, the system represented about 24,000 cases and served over 150,000 users.
Some of the success factors that marked the development of SQUAD included low development cost, since its development only required four person-months. Furthermore, the development of SQUAD supported incremental modifications, since it allowed for cases to incrementally be included in the case database. By 1991, it was estimated that SQUAD had already paid off to the organization over 100 million dollars per year.