High-tech companies are evolving in fast-changing and more regulated environments. As such, a rigorous quality process is required, one that can evolve when required to. Studies show that Agile brings benefits on software quality and the ability to adapt. Despite all of those benefits, Gartner found out that only 31% of companies already adopted agility. Too bad! In fact, agile comes with a set of good practices that can ensure the creation of a compliance in a continuous manner. You will find hereunder 7 ways that show you how becoming an agile enterprise can help reach compliance easier and faster.

Tip n°1 : Switch from quality control to quality culture

It’s about changing your point of view on compliance, to get from “Quality control” to “Quality assurance” and then to to a “Strategic culture of quality”.

  • Quality control is a reactive process, that checks at the endpoint that everything is compliant and aims at identifying incidents.
  • Quality assurance is a proactive approach, looking to prevent and predict bugs.
  • A step further, the Scaled Agile Framework, tells us about built-in quality; It puts quality as a culture, that needs to be lead in the enterprise strategy and the businesses. Quality being an integral part of the company DNA, and the team DNA, makes business agility much easier.

➡️ Quality as a company value prevents all sorts of problems that can create costs due to late delivery, such as products recalls, problem solving… not saying the negative impact on the company public image.

Creating a Culture of Quality

Tip n°2 : Build multi-skilled teams

Despite efforts and some progress, still a lot of organisations have siloed teams. If you look at R&D for example, you can see:

  • Software development teams on one side,
  • Hardware teams on another side,
  • Quality teams in their own corner,
  • Business analysts somewhere else.

Agile approach suggests that you break those silos, and that you create collaborative project spaces (called Worskpace in Tuleap) that will onboard people with complementary sets of skills, allowing them to work all together around the same product. These men and women, from different backgrounds, will bring a different view point on the solution to be developed. This way, teams move from a vision of a “project team” to “a client centric solution” (a concept promoted in the SAFe framework as well )

➡️ Creating multi-profiles teams around a solution brings consistency and productivity to product development.

Tip n°3 : Create an Agile Quality Management System

You all certainly are aware of the Deming wheel, part of the SQM process. We propose to accelerate this virtuous wheel, supported by the Quality Management System, to start a continuous improvement process. Here are a few advice to add more agility to your QMS:

  • Train on the fact that quality is everyone’s responsibility,
  • Design product and compliance at the same time,
  • Check, validate and test in a continuous manner,
  • Integrate Test Plans as you soon as you start development,
  • Encourage for more lean practices, such as Peer Programming, code reviews, continuous integration …
  • Quantify quality, as function of your final client or suppliers, evaluate the number of issues,
  • Improve, step by step.

➡️ With an Agile QMS your company quality policy will be faster to adapt to an ever-changing world.

Tip n°4 : Build trust with continuous compliance

Traditionaly, teams where using (or still use) a Waterfall project management, with a global PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle, where compliance steps are the last step. This model raise a clear issue : any change that has to be done will be much more expensive, because incidents can only be detected at the last possible moment.

In an agile environnement, you should regularly do PDCA cycles, every step along the way. This is an iterative compliance approach. Little by little, we make sure the product is compliant, without any big surprises or big changes at the end. As product gets new features and a new milestones is achieved, everything is already compliant, documented, tested…

➡️ Regular PDCA cycles simultaneously help you achieve efficient quality and reduce risks..

Tip n°5 : Industrial DevOps

Industrial DevOps is the application of continuous delivery and DevOps approaches to the development, deployment, and maintenance of cyber-physical systems. As we have seen, the aim is to make easier for digital projects to adapt faster to changing needs while reducing lead times.
DevOps is often used and mostly suited for software applications. A newer challenge is to brings those DevOps good practices to industrial R&D and embedded systems.

Here are some ways for you to think about:

  • Organize your teams around the end-to-end value stream,
  • Create an incremental “Hardware-Software” assembly line,
  • Test as soon as possible, to identify deviations as fast as you can,
  • Use a continuous checking system.

➡️ Industrial DevOps allows you to develop your product incrementally, as well as a continuous compliance.

cycle devops

Tip n°6 : Apply agile good practice to regulatory requirements

Organisations are used to work in an environnement of norms and standards, that are specific to their industrial domain: ISO, CMMI, HIPAA, Automotive SPICE,… These norms are reference points to create requirements, and use them as the basis for a quality management system that will ensure compliance. These regulatory requirements can be divided in multiple types : 

  • Product requirements,
  • Functional requirements,
  • Non functional requirements,
  • Process requirements.

In agile management, we use two very important terms, that are prerequisite to achieve the level of requirement requested by the development of a digital product: Acceptance Criteria (AC) and Definition of Done. These are pillars of product management, and are a must-have to ensure quality delivery. To reduce irregularities during iterations, agile teams use DoD and AC as a list of criteria which must be met before a product increment can be considered as “Done”. More precisely, according to Ken Schwaber, the Definition of Done is a formal description of the state of the increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product.
These validation/acceptation conditions can be objectives to achieve both from a Product point of view as well as a Process point of view.
Note that, Acceptance Criteria are specific to each User Story, whereas the Definition of Done is much more generic, and applies to every User Story.

Tip n°7 : Use a fully integrated solution

Gartner tells us:

By 2024, 60% of organizations will have switched from multiple point solutions to value stream delivery platforms  to streamline application delivery.

Gartner 2021

A streamlined solution allows you to regroup every tool in the same chain of value, and enables you to get a seamless traceability.

A solution as Tuleap allows you to manage and link every single step of software development, from idea to delivery: the best way to reach a gap-free traceability.

All of your teams can share a unified platform and a common toolkit. Risk and change management are under control. Data, change history and versioning are easy to find. To choose proof of compliance to an auditor, it’s a major asset !

solution intégrée

Read on