Why does my firmware need … a Quality Process? (2)

In my last post, I said I couldn’t write your Quality Process for you, and I can’t. That’s because your process needs to be personalised (or ‘teamalised’, even though it isn’t a proper word). Only you and your team know how you work, which is the core content of your QP document. But there is guidance, and there are hints, that I can offer.

Never ever include unnecessary detail. [This applies to all technical documents.] This guideline benefits you at least as much as it benefits anyone or anything else. There are a surprising number of justifications for this. Here are a few of them.

  • If you commit yourself to producing a design that is green (I know; just trying to keep my analogies simple), then find during coding (which is also design) that it needs to be blue, you have to go back and change your document too. Just say the design will be coloured to optimise reflectivity (or whatever), or don’t mention colour at all, unless it’s a significant attribute of your design.
  • If you specify too much at any stage or abstract level, you risk doing too much up front, (unnecessarily) constraining the design that still remains to be done.
  • Unnecessary detail takes attention away from the significant things you have to say.
  • Unnecessary detail often breaks DRY, which is something we never do. 😉

Write your QP for trusted firmware designers, not for miscreants that must be kept in order. We are all professionals; mutual respect is essential.

Never add anything to your QP that isn’t true. It will be no good to you if you do. But when you write it down for the first time, you may see that the way you work is not how you think you should work. Good! Agree the right way to work with all involved parties, change over to the new practice, and then describe it in your QP. Your QP has already benefitted your work.

Every firmware project is subject to requirements that change (or are added) during its lifetime. The development process you describe should describe how you deal with this. Agile techniques offer possible answers; I’m sure there are others.

If you always spend considerable time debugging, include that in your QP description. [Then, perhaps, you might want to give some thought about how you can spend more time on the good stuff, and less on debugging. 🙂 Dare I suggest TDD?] If you carry out, or assist in, acceptance testing, include that too. Don’t miss out any contribution you make to the development process.

When you have finished, you will have a checklist, useful to the newbie and the experienced developer alike. It will be especially helpful if you are unlucky enough to work without the support of a team. It will help your managers too.

Hope this helps?

This is an addendum to the fourth in a short series of short blog posts. Their main (intended) purpose is to stimulate discussion, so please leave a comment. Thanks for dropping by! [Find me on Twitter as @Patternchaser.]

Why does my firmware need … a Quality Process? (2)

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