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Verification, Validation, and Testing of Engineered Systems by Avner Engel

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8.4 IMPROVING SYSTEM QUALITY PROCESS

We suggest that by measuring quality costs incurred during system development one illuminates key process characteristics and this will lead to a better understanding of the process. Once the process is understood, it can be improved, which leads to reducing system quality costs and development time. Our main point is that the system quality cost (and thus time) in development projects is very high, probably in the range of 50–60% of the development expenditures. We argue that quality costs emanate, in a fundamental way, from poor understanding of needs as well as inferior design, implementation and management, in short waste. Unfortunately, many organizations do not measure their system quality costs. And system engineers by and large are unaware of the magnitude of waste within their organizations.

Quality gurus Juran and Deming claimed that there is “an optimal cost of quality.” Another quality guru, Crosby believed that “quality is free.” The more one invests in quality, the better one’s corporate financial performance is. Our findings do not fit with either of these views. We look at each individual quality element in terms of cost (and time) and ask the question: “Is the cost of ensuring quality, in the long term, less than the cost of failure?” Only if the answer is yes do we advocate investing in quality. Quality strategy must be related to corporate business objectives. Sometimes investment in quality is paramount; at other times, ...

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