How we help the Chief Operating Officer
Almost every business sector in the economy has an increasing reliance on distributed processing systems and the software within them. Whether as part of a product or the support of a service, the reliability of these systems is often critical to business success and continuity. Failure of these systems can result in loss of business reputation, high recall or support costs and in the worst cases, loss of life.
Whilst CEOs are increasingly being called to account in public for failures of their product or service and are being driven by internal corporate governance to assess and minimise the risk to their business of failure of their systems, COO's have to take the lead in delivering new competitive products or services with the ever increasing costs of development, support and compliance.
It has to be the number one priority to ensure that the development or support process must not subject the corporation to the risk of loss of life or loss of business reputation. This may be obvious in sectors such as Aerospace, Defence, Transportation, and Nuclear Power, but more and more other sectors such as Finance, Mobile Devices and Public Utilities, are seeing their reputation hinge on their products or services being free of failure. Sadly many banking customers have recently witnessed the effects of systems failure at first hand. How often does this have to happen before customers switch accounts?
Coupled with the increasing business risk that systems and software create, is the government authorities' wish to apply global measures to ensure safety and correct operation. As users and consumers, COOs should be gratified that Aerospace apply certification requirements such as DO-178B, Automotive are instigating ISO 26262 and Rail EN 50218&9 to force these sectors into a compliance regime that guarantees reasonable safety.
The COO's role in deploying the corporate strategy through the introduction of new products, systems and services will inevitably come up against the need to balance budgets, provide a robust P&L yet implement a framework for a compliance regime which protects the CEO and the Company from the impact of systems and software failure. However, this assurance and compliance comes at a cost. Gone are the days when prototype software could be cobbled together at low cost on a customer's product, although the number of software bug fixes in mobile apps or vehicle servicing might suggest otherwise. In order to ensure the systems and software do what they are meant to do and will not do anything they are not meant to do, rigorous testing and verification, with the provision of necessary evidence, has to be carried out which typically accounts for over 60% of the cost of the whole systems and software development.
COOs will see the escalating costs from technical departments to achieve compliance as the systems and software grow ever larger and more complex. This is a trend that is likely to continue as compliance regimes become stricter. The impact on project development cost increases is well known, particularly when the task is underestimated, but longer term is the impact on margins when the level of support and warranty is calculated. It is easy to be lulled into a false assumption that more processing and software is inevitable but it is only an up front cost. It is a false assumption because the same level of systems integrity is required on every change and update throughout the life of the product or service, repeating the costs of test, verification and provision of evidence.
In systems and software development the most efficient path in terms of time and cost is to identify errors as early as possible in the development process so avoiding rework. The key to affordable error free systems is the use of the emerging technique of "Formal Methods" in the automation of systems requirements capture and the automation of ensuring software code implements the required design, as well as providing the evidence to meet certification requirements.
Formal Methods is a mathematical process around logic and proof from which D-RisQ has produced two software development tools;
- Modelworks ™ ensuring the systems requirements are captured and
- CLawZ™ ensuring the code implements the design.
The automation of these processes can reduce the test and verification costs by over 50% over normal manual test methods.
To use this new technology to reduce risk, lower development costs, reduce support and warranty costs and reduce time to market, please contact us for a D-RisQ consultant to provide more detail.