Friday, January 20, 2006

ACM Queue - Lessons from the Floor - The manufacturing industry can teach us a lot about measuring performance in large-scale Internet services.

I'm interested in measuring quality of performance for software development efforts. Both for the development of the tools I manufacture, as well as the products our engineering department releases. Interesting article here from ACM Queue on the subject.
Consider the manufacture of any mass-scale complex engineered product, such as a car, motorcycle, or small appliance. Customer satisfaction—the gauge of quality—is multifaceted. Manufacturers need ways of quantifying the ways that customers make judgment calls. A customer may say, “This toaster was a disappointment.” Was the most important facet causing that disappointment the consistency of the color of the paint on the outside of the toaster? Was fit-and-finish (the way the product feels when used) a factor? Or was the ability to make more than one piece of toast, with uniform quality, breakfast after breakfast, the determining factor? The take-away message is that complex products have complex quality goals. For a Web-based e-mail service such as Hotmail, we need ways of determining the priority that customers place on a number of service quality measurements.



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