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         Communication Aspects in Software Engineering

5 June 2009

Code Quality – Preventive vs Corrective actions

Filed under: Project Management — Tags: , — admin @ 15:27

When it comes to quality in general and code quality in particular, I very much believe in prevention prior to correction.
When asked about code quality, people tend to offer corrective type solutions. Corrective type solutions are good and necessary, but they are more costly and are worth being minimised by implementing a number of preventive solutions up-stream. Example of preventive actions:

  • Ensure quality of requirements – implement a continous requirements development and recording
  • Ensure quality of architecture and design – implement methodologies for concept and documentation, such as UML and RUP
  • Ensure quality of staff – implement relevant and continuous training programs and recognition programs – manage pressure intelligently
  • Ensure quality of project processes – implement methodologies for project management and software engineering, such as PMBoK, CMMI, RUP and/or a recognised Agile approach.

I have worked for companies which spend a lot of time on the preventive side of things, and other which spend none whatsoever. Experience shows that when time is spent imlementing preventive solutions, the overall time of developing software is no significantly shorter nor longer…
The time normally spent fixing bugs at the end, is instead spent up-front insuring quality. But then dividends pay in the maintenance phase, where things get much easier. One case study demonstrated that 50% less staff were required in the first 5 years of maintaining a software solution re-engineered using proper design and UML approach.
In my point of view, the frequency of total re-engineering needed is also significantly decreased.

As a conclusion, in my experience people implementing Agile approaches often tend to dismiss or minimise the preventive activities in the name of agility, while this is not an Agile requirement and it is undesirable for high quality outcomes.

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