Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The paradox of zero defects versus experimentation in software development: Exploratory case studies
by Ranganath, Prem G., Ph.D., Capella University, 2008, 211; 3330948
Abstract (Summary)

Companies constantly grapple with the challenge of preventing defects in their software applications while trying to create a challenging and innovative environment that spurs creativity and increases staff retention. The objective of defect prevention is not realized without instilling a mindset that focuses on the risks from inaction and support for continuous improvement. While some companies have successfully matured their software development practices resulting in a controlled approach to preventing defects enabled through team commitment, continuous improvement, and experimentation; many still struggle to find an effective solution.

The purpose of the research study is to explore the software engineering and innovation practices used in three large corporations. The research framework is based on Parzinger and Nath's (2000) study of the relationship between organizational culture and successful implementation of Total Quality Management (TQM) practices. This study focuses particularly on managing the paradox of zero defects and experimentation. While a zero defect outcome is mostly a product of effective software engineering practices, experimentation is a product of the company's cultural fabric. Therefore, the primary data collected from these three companies included elements specific to software engineering and development. In order to gain a deep perspective of the companies' culture, specific information pertaining to their way of doing business was also captured. A qualitative approach was used to gather data through surveys, interviews, direct observation, and review of artifacts.

This study concludes that the successful implementation of quality practices requires a work environment that is not overly driven by the need to complete activities, and where leaders encourage learning from failures within the context of a long term plan. It is critical for organizations to understand their cultural profiles prior to developing strategies for implementing a quality program since the work environments, leadership styles, and work attitudes have a direct impact on the successful adoption of quality practices and their sustenance over the long run. One of the three companies participating in this study clearly demonstrates the impact of the work environment and the supportive cultural context on process maturity, predictability of outcomes, and financial results.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Born, Apiwan D.
Commitee: Grunwald, Cristie, Hannon, John
School: Capella University
Department: School of Business
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 69/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Organizational behavior, Information science
Keywords: CMMI, Experimentation, IT projects, Organizational change, Organizational change management, Process maturity, Software defects, Software development, Software quality, Zero defects
Publication Number: 3330948
ISBN: 9780549879497
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