Archive | May, 2016

How to Decide: Waterfall versus Agile Methodology

23 May

Often the success or failure of a software development project depends on deploying the appropriate methodology.  While Agile has many benefits, and appropriate for many projects, it has its limitations as well. Therefore, employing Agile Methodology does not guarantee success.  For example, Agile Methodology, when applied improperly, or without understanding structured software development techniques, can lead to an undisciplined and undocumented run-away project.  As developers go through iterations of refinements and unplanned complexities, Agile’s weaknesses become more pronounced, and the customer becomes unhappy.

On the other hand, a disciplined Waterfall Methodology is appropriate when requirements are well documented and straight-forward, the technology is familiar, and there are relatively few key users of the application.  In such cases, the Waterfall approach gets right to the point.  The designers know exactly what to do, and the developers are able to code to the design with relative ease.  There is no need to go through continuous iterations, except to address defects.  The overall mission is accomplished in relatively short order.

The important point is that each approach has its own unique challenges and advantages.  Deciding which one works best for your project is one of the most important decisions that will determine if the project can be completed on schedule and within budget.

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Maintaining an Effective Quality Management System under ISO 9001:2008

10 May

This month, Ascellon passed our semi-annual ISO surveillance audit without any non-conformance citations.  It is our 18th straight semi-annual audit without any non-conformance citation.  Surveillance audits are conducted by independent certification auditors recognized by the ISO governing body. The purpose of the regularly scheduled surveillance audit is to assure the ISO certification body that the quality management system is put into practice for business operations.  The audit typically focuses on the results of internal audits which are conducted regularly, whether metrics are collected, and how the data collected are used to implement corrective or preventive actions and to improve business processes.  Our customers who require our ISO certification as a condition for doing business with us are further assured of our status as a certified organization based on the results of the surveillance audits.

As an organization, we have found that maintaining an effective ISO 9001:2008 certified quality management system requires continuous management, focus and energy.  The goal is to design a management system that is in line with the organization’s business, while satisfying the requirements of ISO.

Second, we maintain a rigorous internal audit schedule, such that all parts of the system are audited at least twice each year.  This is invaluable in preparing for external surveillance audits.  The organization hardly needs any additional preparation for surveillance audits if internal audits are well-conducted.

Finally, we get everyone involved.  The quality management system is not something for the Quality Assurance Department – it is a way of doing business across the entire organization.

In summary, management at the highest level must lead the quality management system effort, the organization must design a quality management system that fits its business processes while maintaining compliance with ISO, and the quality management system belongs to everyone, not just the QA Department.

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