STMicroelectronics, aka Europe’s largest semiconductors manufacturer, is a French-Italian multinational group whose headquarters are based in Geneva, Switzerland. The company reaches out to many different end-markets, such as: the automotive industry, the manufacturing sector, communication equipments as well as computers and peripheral devices. In this challenging context, quality assurance plays a key role both in products success and in customer satisfaction. Kirk Adoniadis, Quality Manager, shares the test management policy that has been set up at STMicroelectronics in order to ensure delivery of stellar software applications.
Compliance with software development norms at STMicroelectronics
« We manufacture microchips which are at the very heart of high-tech products. We design electronic circuits for the automotive industry, for mobile phones, for wireless applications and also microcontrollers for computers. In other words, we manufacture products that require cutting-edge technology as well as strictly regulated software engineering processes.
Actually, not only have we to ensure high quality, but we also have to succeed in proving the coherence of what we are developing. We have been relying on a software quality assurance process for some years now, in order to comply with the norms and quality standards we must meet. »
- ISO 9000:2015 Quality Management Systems – Fundamentals and Vocabulary
- ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems – Requirements
- IATF 16949:2016 Quality management system requirements for automotive production and relevant service parts organizations
- ISO 9004:2009 Quality Management Systems – Guidance for performance improvement
- ISO/TC 176/SC 2/N544R3 Guidance on the Concept & Use of the Process Approach to quality management systems
- ITIL, the IT Infrastructure Library from the UK Office of Government and Commerce. The best practice processes promoted in ITIL both support and are supported by the British Standards Institution’s Standard for IT Service Management (BS15000).
- SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Act, Control 404
How to ensure quality assurance policy and traceability?
« Let’s take SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) as an example. SOX is a legal requirement for ST as for other large companies. First of all, SOX principles are enforced exclusively on those applications having a financial impact on our operations. In our case, thanks to Tuleap reports and cross-links, we can prove to auditors that we have effectively monitored and dealt with a requirement (i.e. an internal customer’s change request, a version change and so on).
For instance, we can easily show that we have addressed a « Change Request » (CR), added a « Requirement » (REQ) to our product and that we have also tested this latter requirement (TST).
Tuleap ensures both the validation process and the links among « Change Request => Requirement => Requirement Test (or simply between CR => TST). These links are accessible and visible through the generated reports. If necessary, auditors can check our tools out to verify our workflow compliance.
Previously, ST used HP QC to manage test plans. Why did you choose to opt for Tuleap then?
« This is due to the fact that HP QC is compatible with Internet Explorer 11 only. Since it will no longer be supported from next year on, this is something that has pushed us to look for another solution.
Moreover, we have already been using Tuleap for a while to collaborate on hundreds of projects. Actually we largely use agile plannings, trackers and Git. If we take into account the potential of everything we could do thanks to Tuleap and its tools such as Tuleap Test Management and Tuleap Agile Dashboard, it results to be more strategic and sustainable for us to work exclusively with Tuleap. This because Tuleap is an all-in-one integrated solution as well as a modern and continuously updated tool.
Tuleap ensures the management of quality assurance and requirement at the same time. So that it’s easier, in case of audits, to prove that what we deliver complies with what has formerly been requested. Everything is traceable and linked in Tuleap. This way, our teams can set the QA steps and then plan, implement and generate reports of validation campaigns, all under one roof. »
What is Software Quality Assurance at ST?
« Our general workflow is the following: Software Development Plan:
Afterwards, we implement one of these 3 processes, depending on the project:
- Waterfall approach,
- Adapted-Agile approach, more flexible but it still has some framed steps,
- Full-Agile approach.
V-Model (Waterfall approach)
This workflow is used when our internal customers are less committed to the projects – or even strongly committed but for a short period of time – and when product specifications have clearly been detailed. Also, it is a project approach we use when we are strongly dependent on external stakeholders.
Adapted-Agile approach (Flexibility within defined boundaries)
This quality assurance process is used when internal customers are fairly committed to the projects for a long period of time, when specifications haven’t been set clearly in earlier stages and also when we have little or no dependence towards external stakeholders.
We use a full-agile approach for projects when our internal customers are pretty committed for a long while as well as when customers accept not to define every and each aspect of the product specification from the beginning, so that it is possible to go on with the project step by step, progressively validating hypothesis (it is a « discovery » approach). As for the previous approach, it is used when we have little or no dependence towards external stakeholders.
As far as our Digital Transformation initiative is concerned, our teams are increasingly adopting the full-agile approach, even though we keep on carrying out some projects following the V-models, basically for the reasons mentioned above.
Through the migration of our projects into Tuleap, we have succeeded in implementing the necessary means to enforce the « full-agile » workflow, thanks to Tuleap Test Manager plug-in.
Moreover, thanks to our privileged relationship with the Tuleap team, we are capable of taking an important part in guiding the product evolution in order to make it as close as possible to our development processes.