Thursday, November 17, 2005

Is quality a destination or a journey?

In keeping with my current provocative streak, I'd like to talk about another potentially hackle-raising, ire-swelling, flame-generating subject.  As the title of this post suggests, what is quality and how do you know you got it?  Let me start by placing myself squarely in the “Quality is a journey” camp.  Are you actually surprised by this?  If you've followed this blog (and other Borland bloggers), then this shouldn't come as any kind of shock.  After all, I'm more a pragmatist than I am an idealist.  Also, I want to dispel any kind of myth that I'm ignorant of any quality foibles that have hit Delphi in the past.  So, this isn't some high and mighty diatribe designed to deflect any blame and/or hide past mistakes.  OK, D2005 was less than perfect.. some would contend it was a disaster.  As much as I was reponsible for that release, I wish to just say we messed up and we're trying our hardest to correct as much as is in our power the how's and why's that happened.  Are we going to step up to the plate and just swing for a single?  I don't think so.  We're going to swing for the fences, dangit!  Will we hit a home-run?  Maybe. Maybe not.  But the point I want to make is that even after a bad play, we are still determined to step back to the plate and give it our best shot.  So even if we don't hit it out of the park, a double or triple would be far better than striking out at the plate.

So what does this sudden baseball analogy have to do with journeys?  Hank Aaron didn't start his baseball career as a record setting homerun king.  It was a journey for him as well.  So along that same vein, quality is also something you are always trying to do better than you did before.  It is a journey that some may contend is never finished.  However, unless you take those few first steps, you're going to just sit there and go absolutely nowhere.  So you may also be saying, “That's great, but shouldn't you be so much better now that you're releasing the 10th version?”  I agree.  But it is what it is, and I can only try and correct those things that lead to where we were in the past.  If only I could set the “way-back machine” and correct the problems of the past...

So you want honesty?  Maybe that was just too honest, but so what?  Would you rather some corporate mouthpiece pump out some press release about how it's all good and there's no trouble in paradise?  I don't think so.  I will tell you that the Delphi team is excited about the DeXter release.  The team was also relieved at the exec's willingness to actually delay the final cut of the C++Builder portion until we ('we' being the team and the field-testers) feel it is ready!

I hope folks will be willing to join in on this journey.  You get a better and better Delphi/C++Builder and we all win.  Come to think of it... Isn't that also what this whole SDO/ALM thing is about as well?  Not only is quality about doing software right, but also about doing the right software.  This is something that the Delphi team has held as one of its core values.  Always, always, use what you produce in one form or another.  I like the story I'd heard recently about how an airplane manufacturer would require that the team of engineers that wrote the flight control software be among the first to fly on the plane during trials.  I'm not sure I'd want that job, but it does illustrate my point.