February 02, 2005

Role of SQA

It's been more than two yers now since I started my assignement as SQA in KPIT Cummins and it seems it has been a long time. I enjoyed my role through and through since it involved lot of interactions, interpersonal and communications skills. It demanded personal integrity and relationship building skills. Where as the skills of CMM were obviously esential, I started this role without handson knowledge of CMM and was reading KPIT Cummins QS processes to catch up.

It has been my one of most liked role so far and I have got very long friends list due to it.

An SQA function is increasingly becoming important and serious in the organizations. With the current thurst on Software Quality certifications and cometition fast increasing, the organizations need SQA people more than any other times in the history. i will explore today what are the qaulities that are required to perform and SQA role.

First and the foremost
Personal Integrity:- It is the utmost duty of an SQA to be firm on findings and present to the appropriate persons irrespective of the politics or tactics used by the affected people.

Lets face it. In any kind of set up where the performing groups needs some kind of 'go-ahead' from an internal group, the bearocracy and politics, the degree of which may vary, is expected to be there and also one should expect good amount of pressures from numerous quarters. The very nature of SQA job is to pint out mistakes and produce a report which can potentially halt the timely delivery (well timely is not rigt word, it should be already late, since delivery always had to be yesterday). Additionally this report also has potential to create some room for reprimands and the project team may have to answer some difficult question. With this in mind, there will be influencing forces from various sides. Such situations will call for a very high level of personal integrity and personal commitment.

People person:- Now with SQA job, comes the responsobilty of getting things done from people who are not reportng to you, who are not a part of your projects and who are already under pressures from all side can very easily blast you, only if you are not careful and sensitive to other's needs. I am sure there will be circumstances when we try to get things done and what we get is either a sly reply, a laughter rediculing you or a blunt answer. You just can not do things with keeping any involved parties unhappy and expect to get things done. One may argue that, if someone does not see any value in doing a cetain thing in a certain way, it should be presented that way or a deviation should be sought. It is a very good argument but not practical, since there are many factors that drive process/product compliance or non-compliances like deadlines, pressures and skills levels etc. In all these circumstances, it becomes imperative for the project people to keep up with the pressures fom various quarters and they tend to ignore the compliance issues unless they have been directed by the senior management or the customers. Given this, It is a highly requred that SQA is easy to be friends with and can build relations with the slightest opportunity. You can't do it without being a People Person. Can you?

Understanding of organization Culture:- As stated above, SQA has to be a people person. We have to be careful in all kinds of dealing with people when we are new to the role or new to the organization. If you are used to a set up where things are done only after escalations and SQA is not very well recieved and suddenly in a new organization, you have to deal with mature organization, you will end up creating a mess for yourself if you do not understand the organization culture first befoe escalating. There are many factors like, the way we approach people and the way request a time slot for various meetings. Somewhere you have to write a mail or somewhere you can simply go and talk to them. There are some behavioural patterens which differe from Organization to Organization. We have to understand the prevalantcuilture first.

Technical Skills:- We have to understand the basics of the framework within which we will have to work and later on one has to work with the framework and keep on upgrading the skills. Not only a professional compulsion, but also need of the framework you are working with in. You have to always expolore the opportunities to tweak the current framework. Efficiency of any framework is the key. Be it systems development framework or a process improvement framework.

Coach:- Being an SQA, it is very important to keep in mind that it is the responsibility of an SQA to help the project not only to comply wtih the organizational`poilicies, procedures and standards, but also to act like a coach whenever required. One of the opportunity for such a role is inadequate exeperince or skill levele of the project team, or a project has been reporting some avoidable issues. One has to wear a hat of a coach here and carry all of them along and leave the project to them after they are sufficiently trained. No matter how much training you give to the new peopple, but statistics show, only 20% of the knowledge taught is abosorbed and understod, remaining 80% gets registered only after practicing. Again being a people person becomes a prime personal trait of an SQA.

Catalysts for process improvements:-Process Improvement is an SEPG Activity! That's a very correct statement. And it certainly does keep the SQA out of improvement cycle. And an SQA's job ends with some reviews or meeting and this is a very wrong statement. An SQA has to be on constant look out for improvement opportunities like a Tiger on the Prowl and pass it on to the right people. SEPG will function in a much better way if SQA treats itself as a integration between SEPG and the practitioners. Becoming a catalyst for improvement creates a win-win situation for all the affected people and builds a better frmework to work on.

Having worked as an SQA in INDIA and UK as well my experience has been no different so far. My way of working has notchanged. The people skills have played a vital role in my short career as an SQA and are still playing critical role as an SQA. The technical challenges faced by an SQA has remained same in both parts of the world. Right Process, Right Place and Ritght time.

1 comment:

shalini said...

Hi Puneet,

I agree with u.SQA can work well only if he is a people's person.

Thanks for such an enlightening post.