Saturday, June 04, 2005

How not to impress an auditor

We had an ISO 9000 quality audit at work yesterday. ISO is a quality standard for business processes. I never quite understood the actual value of the accreditation, but I guess the theory goes that ISO certified companies are more efficient and reliable than non certified ones.

Anyway, the auditor looks at our software development process, and basically looks for evidence that we're following it. They'll read specs and test cases, but mainly they look for evidence that we've followed our plans and the outcomes are clearly visible, to make sure that we have a method behind the madness. Yep, Looking for evidence is what it's all about.

When I sat through my first audit, our development process was, well, (how to put this tactfully...) ..hard to find. I spent ages preparing stories and justifications to demonstrate that everything was fine. Nowadays, our process is well refined, followed and documented, and so a visit from the auditor is not scary at all.

So after I'd explained some of the newer things, like agile methodologies and persona based design to Tina (the auditor), She asked to talk to one of the developers on the team. I suggested she speak to Big-Headed Simon.

Simon is totally obsessive about having a clean desk. If any of the garbage from my end makes it onto his desk, he'll instantly shove it back. Did you ever have a fight with your brother and divide your shared room with a line of sticky tape? It's like that where our desks meet, becuase I'm a slob. Perhaps it's some weird kind of autism. Whatever. Tina opens the conversation with:

"My, you have a very clean desk here!"

And Simons reply: (remember he's talking to an auditor here)

"Oh. Well, that's because I never keep any records."

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