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Tag Archives: quality

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to quality.

Accuracy is Important… Always. 10 Ways You Can Improve Yours!

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This post first appeared on Eagle’s CEO Blog on May 16, 2012

Accuracy is Important … Always. 10 Ways You Can Improve Yours!Mistakes are a fact of life… they happen!

It is, however, important to learn from our mistakes, which is a natural process that will result in us getting better.

If we don’t learn from our mistakes then we miss a huge opportunity. And yet many people fall into this trap.

Accuracy is extremely important no matter what job you have. If you mislead co-workers, your boss, your client because of mistakes then there can be repercussions.  In some circumstances accuracy is CRITICAL. 99% accuracy might be great for many professions, but for an aircraft pilot or a ship’s captain it isn’t great enough!

How do you go about improving your accuracy so that you make less mistakes?

  1. You have to CARE!  You cannot adopt an attitude that accepts mistakes, you need to want to be “mistake free”.
  2. You need to LEARN. That means actively understand why the mistake happened and making sure it doesn’t happen again!
  3. Sometimes you need to SLOW DOWN.  Many mistakes happen because work is rushed, or because the person doing the work has not taken time to become accurate in their process.  In the same way that children learn to walk before they run, it is important that we learn to do our job RIGHT first and THEN get faster!
  4. Practice!   If you perform some tasks infrequently then you are more likely to make mistakes, so practice and take special care on those kinds of activities.
  5. Check your work!   it is easy to complete a task and submit it but if you take a little extra time to double check your work you will reduce the margin for error.
  6. Along with #5 develop little “checks” that work for you.  For example, if you are providing numbers in a report is there a “rule of thumb” you could create that would show if anything looks strange in the results?
  7. Use spellchecker ALWAYS!!!  This is a habit everyone should adopt!
  8. Along with #7, don’t rely solely on spellchecker, read your document AFTER the spellchecker has done its thing.  The words in your sentence might be real words, just not the ones you wanted!!!
  9. Develop checklists for yourself.  If your job requires 5 steps in the process for every transaction use a checklist to make sure you completed ALL 5 steps EVERY time.  Pilots use these, doctors use these; a mistake from either of those professions could be VERY nasty!
  10. Take advantage of “best practices”.  Find how other people do the job and learn from them, ask for help, get a mentor… anything that will help you to get better at your job.

We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” L.M. Montgomery

Measurements Towards Continuous Delivery

By Michael Bowler

The original version of this article can be found on the Agile Advice blog.

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Measurements Towards Continuous DeliveryI was asked yesterday what measurements a team could start to take to track their progress towards continuous delivery. Here are some initial thoughts.

Lead time per work item to production

Lead time starts the moment we have enough information that we could start the work (ie it’s “ready”). Most teams that measure lead time will stop the clock when that item reaches the teams definition of “done” which may or may not mean that the work is in production. In this case, we want to explicitly keep tracking the time until it really is in production.

Note that when we’re talking about continuous delivery, we make the distinction between deploy and release. Deploy is when we’ve pushed it to the production environment and release is when we turn it on. This measurement stops at the end of deploy.

Cycle time to “done”

If the lead time above is excessively long then we might want to track just cycle time. Cycle time starts when we begin working on the item and stops when we reach “done”.

When teams are first starting their journey to continuous delivery, lead times to production are often measured in months and it can be hard to get sufficient feedback with cycles that long. Measuring cycle time to “done” can be a good intermediate measurement while we work on reducing lead time to production.

Escaped defects

If a bug is discovered after the team said the work was done then we want to track that. Prior to hitting “done”, it’s not really a bug – it’s just unfinished work.

Shipping buggy code is bad and this should be obvious. Continuously delivering buggy code is worse. Let’s get the code in good shape before we start pushing deploys out regularly.

Defect fix times

How old is the oldest reported bug? I’ve seen teams that had bug lists that went on for pages and where the oldest were measured in years. Really successful teams fix bugs as fast as they appear.

Total regression test time

Track the total time it takes to do a full regression test. This includes both manual and automated tests. Teams that have primarily manual tests will measure this in weeks or months. Teams that have primarily automated tests will measure this in minutes or hours.

This is important because we would like to do a full regression test prior to any production deploy. Not doing that regression test introduces risk to the deployment. We can’t turn on continuous delivery if the risk is too high.

Time the build can be broken

How long can your continuous integration build be broken before it’s fixed? We all make mistakes. Sometimes something gets checked in that breaks the build. The question is how important is it to the team to get that build fixed? Does the team drop everything else to get it fixed or do they let it stay broken for days at a time?

Continuous delivery isn’t possible with a broken build.

Number of branches in version control

By the time you’ll be ready to turn on continuous delivery, you’ll only have one branch. Measuring how many you have now and tracking that over time will give you some indication of where you stand.

If your code isn’t in version control at all then stop taking measurements and just fix that one right now. I’m aware of teams in 2015 that still aren’t using version control and you’ll never get to continuous delivery that way.

Production outages during deployment

If your production deployments require taking the system offline then measure how much time it’s offline. If you achieve zero-downtime deploys then stop measuring this one.  Some applications such as batch processes may never require zero-downtime deploys. Interactive applications like webapps absolutely do.

I don’t suggest starting with everything at once. Pick one or two measurements and start there.

About Michael Bowler

Mike is an Agile and technical, coach and trainer who has been writing code for over thirty years and has been an active member of the Agile community for the last fifteen. He blends his strong technical background with a deep understanding of Agile methods to help teams consistently improve how they deliver value to their customers.

Doing it Right

Sometimes it is hard work to do things the right way.  It is often easier to take shortcuts.
You have to actually remember stuff in order to do things the right way.  Flying by the seat of your pants is just that much easier.  You are busy so people can’t expect too much, right?

Can YOU hear yourself?  Hopefully not, because this person doesn’t CARE, and that sucks!

Here is the deal:Thumb Up

  1. Not doing it right it puts your reputation at risk. You sold yourself to your client by saying that you will do it right!
  2. Not doing it right impacts clients!
  3. Not doing it right impacts business partners!
  4. Not doing it right inconveniences people in other parts of the project!
  5. Not doing it right costs you a client, money or your next gig with an agency because they only want to work with contractors who do it right!

Good professionals do it right because they CARE. Good companies make sure they work with contractors who understand that doing it right is the only option!

Do you care enough? Do clients want to work with you again or are they happy to see you leave when the contract is over?