Archive for January, 2019

Regression Testing

Posted on: January 9th, 2019 by admin No Comments

By Jon M. Quigley

I saw a LinkedIn post yesterday about scope of testing during times of compressed schedule. The position was to test what is new in the software, and of that new, what is the most important, perhaps meaning what if it goes wrong, would be the worst for the client or customer.  Generally this is probably a good idea. However, there are some drawbacks to this approach.  This means no regression testing. Regression testing is testing of the old software features when we add new software features to the product.

Testing as above, is predicated on the belief that those things that we have changed or added, have no implication or impact on those features and functions that were already in place prior to this last iteration of the software. That may not be true.  If we make changes to some software module that is used by other functions, we may miss testing a change in a key interaction.  It is good to ask questions about the nature of the change, for example, does this change to the software include changes to the operating system or to some subsystem handling for example the serial communication algorithm or other system level software attribute.   Additionally, what we intend to change when we rework software, and what is actually changed are sometimes not congruent.  Somebody makes a change to a software module, that is not a required change but perhaps a seemingly innocuous change requested from the customer.  As if there were not enough, just adding new features to the software provides opportunities for other things in the software to get accidentally changed.

Regression Testing

Regression Testing

Things that can get missed when we do not perform regression testing:

  1. Accidental changes to software and parameters (the fat finger situation)
  2. Changes to software modules that were not part of the new feature content not accidental but opportunistic (customer wants a change and we accommodate)
  3. Changes to the system we use to build the software (new compiler – version, revision, or supplier; and development environment) that may impact the final product result
  4. Changes to operating system type components – for example the communications modules
  5. Errors in the constituent parts of the software build. (What software components or modules are included in the build? Do we have the latest and all component parts? )

Personally, unless seriously the cramped for time (under some reservation), I prefer to always perform regression testing.  In fact, regression testing is probably one of the best reasons to adopt some philosophy about automation for testing.  Testing that can be executed over night, and freeing up our team to use their creativity, experiences and intuition to explore the product.  I advocate regression testing even for changes to the product unless the changes are very specific, and the software team has a history of delivering software that does not have events like including incorrect parts in the build and others from the list above.  I prefer performing regression testing, but then again, I work in embedded automotive software, and the consequence of a defect has a range of uncomfortable and intolerable situations. Better to err on the side of risk conservative rather than risk intense.

Gemba Walk

Posted on: January 7th, 2019 by admin No Comments

Go to the place where the work is performed, that is the Gemba walk.  This does not apply just to manufacturing, but also line managers and their respective departments as well as to project management. You want to know what is going on, what could be better, go unto the work space and watch and talk with the people doing the work.

Where the work is performed, depends upon the work.  For example, if you are the manager of a product testing department, the place where the work is performed is likely the lab,  Go where the Hardware In the Loop (HIL) rigs and see how things are going, go to the test rooms where the environmental (hot and cold) and other stimuli (vibration) are administered to the product.  Learn how this work is actually being done. Ask questions about how the work is going.  What sort of things are difficult and why? What can we do to make the work easier to accomplish, quicker, in general better?

If we are a project manager, we will want to visit our project team, ideally that team would be co-located so it is possible to visit with either the entire team.  Talk with the team in the space where they are performing the work on behalf of the project to achieve the objectives.   Visit where the requirements are being learned and gathered, is there difficulty in the process, are there risks associated with uncovering the expectations of the product?

If your team is manufacturing, then the place where the work is accomplished is the manufacturing line. Therefore, you will need to spend time on the manufacturing line, watching the work, talking with those most close to the work.  Ask questions about the processes that the staff are using to accomplish the work, perhaps see if we are actually performing the work according to the defined process.  I have friends in manufacturing that spend considerable amount of time on the factory floor, watching the work, asking people about how the work is done, and checking for new ideas for how to accomplish the work with greater ease an better quality or less variation.  Make no mistake however, this is not a social visit, to that end, there are a few steps we want to follow;

  1. Write down questions you think you may want to ask – for example, perhaps you have looked at data from the work that suggests the company would benefit from this being more quickly executed or of a better quality.  However, don’t be wed to this, look for opportunities that may arise out of the exchanges with the people.
  2. In your exchanges with those doing the work, share what you know and your experiences as well.  This should be an exchange and not an interrogation.
  3. Talk with those that are doing the work, so they understand what you are working to achieve.  The objective of this exploration should be known, without knowing that, it is not possible to pull people together to meet the goals of the organization.  This is an opportunity to explore mental models.
  4. Take notes, do not forget why you are there.  You are seeking to make things better, to improve the work space, you should take notes, action items, of things being explored.  This is much like a meeting in that regard, we need action items and notes to drive actions and as part of setting up the schedule.

The Gemba walk is also a good opportunity to connect with the staff in the context of the work, not just look at it from a perspective of the work, but an opportunity to express gratitude for the application of their skill, talent, and effort on behalf of the organization.  Showing interest in the work of another, even if you are not seeking to change the work, or find a better way to do the work, can be seen as a demonstration of the value of that work. Specifically, would we take time out of our busy work day to inquire into things about which we do not give one care?  Not likely.

The point to the Gemba walk is to understand how the work is undertaken, to uncover problem areas and evoke improvements to how the work gets accomplished.   It is important to know that this technique does not apply solely to manufacturing.  Walking around where the work is done can help, but you have to make the most of the opportunity, and therefore will require some measure of discipline coupled personal and individual engagement.

5S

Posted on: January 1st, 2019 by admin No Comments

If you have spent any time in the automotive industry you have probably spent time working within a system called the 5S.  This collection of ideas or focus areas are employed to create a clean working environment which reduces waste, and improves through put, and is part of a lean approach to the work.  Ultimately, the 5S can reduce operating costs through improved productivity, improve quality, and makes the work place safer.

 

5-S Japanese and English

5-S Japanese and English

 

Sort

Sorting is just what it sounds like, we want to work through our equipment, and ask some questions about the use of that equipment or material.  Sorting applies to everything about the work space, not just the tools, but everything in that area.  Benches, seats, tools, and materials, all of it.

We will ask the questions below as we move through the work space thinking about sorting.

  • Why do we use this item?
  • How often do we use this item?
  • Who on our team uses this item?
  • Where should this equipment ideally be located?

Things used more frequently, will be treated one way, and equipment that is used only as an exception, may be treated differently.  At the end of this work, the work area will be reduced of clutter and the confusion of what equipment or tool is used at the station.

Set in Order

Upon prioritizing what is important in the work space and reducing the clutter, it is now possible for those that work at the work station to determine the best way to set up the work space.  To do this we will engage those that do the work, to find the best possible way to configure the work space.

  • Do we need additional storage?
  • Where do we specifically place the equipment that we will use the most frequently?
  • Is there a hierarchy that we can apply to the equipment used that will impact how we should arrange the equipment?

Shine

Cleaning the work space is next in the sequence of events. This step is not relegated to the periodic cleaning or maintaining of the work space by the custodian staff for the organization.  We have removed the clutter and prioritized what remains, but we want to make sure the work area is free of debris and corruption through waste material.  We will sweep, mop, dust and keep the area free of things that intrude the work space and provide no advantage.  Keeping the space clean is part of a disciplined approach to the work.

Standardize

We want to cement these previous steps, with a measure of discipline in how we approach the work space.  We want to have as a priority, maintaining the work space with the previous steps. That is we will make sure the equipment is used and put back where it belongs. We will clean the area and essentially maintain our earlier efforts.  It is easy to fall back into the previous behavior which led us to the less than stellar work place, tools all over the place and cluttered and dirty work space.  To that end we will establish a routine that will take us through this sequence very frequently, via check lists, schedule associated with Sort and Set in order.  We will develop work station instructions that describe what maintaining the work space and expect those working the station to abide.  We will be disciplined in our work regarding maintaining the space.

Sustain

We have procedures for our 5S in place, but our work environment is not static.  We will maintain our previous work following those standards, however we will keep our eyes open and the organization involved to the degree where we constantly consider how to make the work space better.  We may alter the work space, new technologies, and improve the processes used to accomplish the work may implicate the need to make alterations to the work station, and thus alterations to the 5S.

Summary

We need to keep the work space clean, removing distractions and obstructions from the work space.  We do not want to use the wrong material, spend too much time looking for the specific tool we need from among the several tools we have available.  To eliminate these things, we will use the 5S technique, keeping the work space optimal for accomplishing the objectives of the work.

 

 

 

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