QA, QC & Testing

Understanding Requirements

The sole aim of developing quality products is to make sure that they are marketable. There's no point in building the safest, securest or most aesthetic product when it can't be sold because nobody wants it.

In a fiercely competitive marketplace, businesses need to be sure that their products fulfil customer expectations. Merely being functional, that is the product does what it was made for isn't going to guarantee sales.

Consider the Sinclair C5, as shown in Figure 2 on the next page. This vehicle hit the United Kingdom in 1986 and was designed to be a cost effective way of travelling on short journeys.

However the Sinclair C5 was ridiculed by many who drew attention to its safety aspect. Whilst the Sinclair C5 was functional, whereby it was able to take a person from one destination to another.

It wasn't what people wanted, as it was viewed as unsafe. Especially when lorry drivers commented on the difficulty of seeing the C5 from high up in their lorry cabs.

All in all the C5 was not only a financial disaster, it also made the C5's inventor, Clive Sinclair lose priceless credibility, which would take him years to recover.

The whole Sinclair C5 story proved that there is little point in trying to build a product, when it is unclear whether it is something which people actually want.

To avoid developing products that people don't want, an understanding of what people really do want needs to be developed.

If it's not what the customer wants, they won't buy it.

Blueprint

Some form of a blueprint needs to be developed which can be referenced to ensure that the products developed meet the customer expectations.

In a world of quality the term 'Requirements' is used to describe the blueprints of what a customer expects the products to be. These do not necessarily necessitate a set of drawings but can also encompass a set of goals, rules objectives and so on.

For example, an alarm clock manufacturer wants to develop a new alarm clock. Instead of just designing and building an alarm clock as the clock manufacturer sees fit.

The best approach would be to find out what the potential customer of the alarm clock would look for when deciding to purchase an alarm clock.

If the alarm clock manufacturer decided to design and build the alarm clock as they saw fit, with the assumption of it only being an alarm clock so any generic alarm clock design will suffice, they could end up with an alarm clock which simply wouldn't sell. As potential customers might find the alarm clock not meeting their needs. Customers may not like the design, the way the alarm clock works and so on.

By finding out what customers actually want from an alarm clock, the alarm clock manufacturer has a greater chance of designing and building an alarm clock which will sell.

This customer input into developing the alarm clock is the customer's requirements.

There's no point in building something that the customer doesn't like and subsequently doesn't want.

Many corporations are often guilty of overlooking customer needs and developing products on the assumption of them being appropriate for a particular market.

When these products are subsequently released, the corporations quickly realise through poor sales that these products are not what people actually want.