A Quality Assurance colleague of mine once told me that quality was a 20 year cycle. Only when things are constantly going bad do the executives want to spend sufficient money on quality assurance and proactively apply its principals. Things then improve over time and ten years later everything is going great and the executives start wondering why they are spending money on quality assurance preventing problems that are not happening, and start the long road to cutting back on it until it is almost nonexistent. So things then deteriorate for the next ten years until everything is constantly going bad again and the cycle starts over. The last time I saw Quality Assurance sufficiently applied was ten years ago.
From the customer perspective, software patches may fix the problem but they seldom settle my anger over the interim period of being broken and the next time I need to purchase the functionality, I’m always looking for another company’s version, something that is more reliable, maybe even cheaper and better. Exchanging defective products may get me a working item, calling the help desk may get me an improved service, but it seldom fixes my total dissatisfaction.
I don’t know about you, but lately, it sure does seem that everything I buy and every service I get has problems that inconvenience me or cause discomfort. I think we are at the time to start the quality cycle over. It is not going to be easy, and it is going to be long road back to delivering quality products, systems and services. This trip to excellence is probably going to take ten years.
For Quality Assurance to be applied effectively, Quality has to be built into the design of products, systems and services. Waiting for a defect to happen, finding it and reacting to it is called Quality Inspection, not Assurance. To build Quality into the design, it starts with building it in to the business processes. The more the processes are viewed holistically and integrated, the greater the quality of the product, system, or service will be. Quality products, systems, and services are the cornerstone to providing value to the customers and satisfaction for all stakeholders. Value and satisfaction leads to happy customers and stakeholders and is the cornerstone of sustaining the existence of the enterprise. We need to wake up or we will be going out of business.
The difference between today and twenty years ago when the quality cycle was last in the defective zone is the maturity of enterprise architecture and the ability to better take the needs of the customer and stakeholders into consideration in the design and development of the products, systems, services and the enterprises that produce and provide them. So maybe now we have the ability to do a better job than last time we tried. So why is Enterprise Architecture not being fully used in the design and development of the offerings we deliver?
Why are we not using enterprise architecture to transform our design processes? After all, without process, the enterprise is inanimate and can’t accomplish the intentions of the strategies and goals. Enterprise architecture enables us to have a holistic view of the enterprise and allows us to integrate processes by focusing on what it is that the entire enterprise has in common: the products, systems, and services it offers.
To get rid of the constant problems plaguing us and our customers and to be successful at what we do, and provide acceptable outcomes, it is time to employ enterprise architecture to improve process integration.
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