QW2K Workshop W4
Management Track

Mr. Robert Sabourin
(Purkinje Inc.)

The Effective SQA Manager -- Getting Things Done


Presentation Abstract

This interactive tutorial walks you through several "down to earth" practical aspects of running an SQA team.

The tutorial is presented in parable form. In this tutorial the audience will experience the real life problems encountered by a NOGO.COMs neophyte SQA Manager "Fred". "Fred" must turn around an enthusiastic but severely under staffed and under budget team of SQA professionals working in a chaotic development environment into a productive effective team! "Fred" is under the gun - he has to get things done!

"Fred" is experiencing common pressures which dominate the software industry today:

* Tight time frame projects: "must ship it now", "Internet Time"
* Frequently changing requirements: "cannot sell without this last minute change"
* Communications problems: "they changed the code but not the spec and then they didn't tell the test team"
* Hiring and keeping staff: "there is a shortage of qualified staff on market - lot's of pressure to move - if your key SQA lead gets upset he can be in a new job tomorrow!"
* Keeping up with technology: "which tools should we use?"
* Test automation: "what should be automated, when - who has time to automate?"
* Understanding shifting business priorities: "Why is this project so important anyhow? How do I tell how to split resources within my team?"
* Co-ordination with other teams: "who did what when to whom and why?"
* Not enough people to test: "short staffed"
* Not enough time to test: "under the gun"
* When we have people to test we do not have a product ready for test: "why are we always waiting"
* Test coverage: "what should and should not be covered?"
* Estimating: "time and effort?"
* Making and keeping commitments: "What to commit to, when and how?"
* Capturing important data for downstream process improvement: "we are already using every second to get as much of the job done as we can - how can be start capturing metrics?"
* SQA is always getting blamed and squeezed because the product is LATE!

"Fred" of course cannot "do it alone". In search of wisdom "Fred" gets advice from many mentors - each of whom helps "Fred" conquer another hurtle! Incrementally "Fred" builds his organisation into a world class effective team famous for "getting things done!" consistently "On-Time", "On-Quality" and "On-Budget".

The tutorial covers practical aspects of SQA management and organisation:

* Goals
* Business drivers
* Roles and responsibilities
* Decision makers, decision making, dealing with bugs
* Getting buy in from other teams, paradigm shifts
* Test planning, prioritisation, execution
* Staffing, triage, creative resource usage, getting some free resources
* Automation what, when, how
* Incremental process improvement
* Starting a practical, useful and used metrics program
* The many faceted role of formal inspections
* Effective software requirements and specifications
* Focus on doing "the right things" "the right way" (tuning tunnel vision)
* Marketing and promoting excellence
* Building team spirit - involving people in business decisions
Several practical examples are given.

About the Author

Robert Sabourin has been involved in all aspects of development, testing and management of software engineering projects. Robert graduated from McGill University in 1982. Since writing his first program in 1972, Robert has become accomplished software engineering management expert. He is presently the Director of Research and Development at Purkinje Inc; a Montreal-based international firm specializing in the development of sophisticated, critical medical software used at the point of care. Previously, Robert managed Software Development at Alis Technologies for over ten years. He has built several successful software development teams and champions the implementation of "light effective process" to achieve excellence in delivering on-time, on-quality, on-budget commercial software solutions.

Robert has championed many complex international multilingual software development and globalization efforts involving several intricate business partnerships and relationships including international government (Czech, Egypt, France, Morocco, Algeria...) and commercial entities (Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, HP, Thompson CSF, Olivetti...). Systems included concurrent coordinated multilingual multiplatform product releases.

Robert's pioneering work with Infolytica Corporation led to the development of the first commercially available platform independent graphics standard GKS and several toolkits which allowed for cross platform development and porting of complex CAD, Graphics, Analysis and Non-Destructive Simulation systems.

Robert is a frequent guest lecturer at McGill University where he relates theoretical aspects of Software Engineering to real world examples with practical hands-on demonstrations.

In 1999, Robert completed a short book illustrated by his daughter Catherine entitled "I Am a Bug" (ISBN 0-9685774-0-7). Written in the style of a children's book, "I am a Bug" explains elements of the software development process using a fun metaphor. Throughout his career, he has also been the author of several articles and papers, and has given presentations relating to software development at a number of international conferences. Most recently, Robert presented an interactive half-day tutorial on Bug Priority and Severity at Software Quality Week in Belgium - November 1999.

Robert has received professional recognition for many accomplishments over the years. These include Byte Middle East's 1992 Product of the Year for the AVT-710 product family achieving a ZERO FIELD REPORTED software defect rate with over 15,000 units installed. (Project involved over 27-man month's effort!); Quebec Order of Engineers' recognition for creating and managing the Alis R&D Policy Guide - Development Framework and process; CANARIE Gold Proposal for CANARIE PHASE I (Internet en franšais); and CANARIE Gold Proposal for CANARIE PHASE II (multilingual internet).