A Software Company’s TL 9000 Success Story
by Vivek “Vic” Nanda and Tim Kelly
n the summer of 1999, Ulticom, a small telecommunications software product company, set out on its quest to establish a quality management system (QMS) and achieve registration to TL 9000, the telecommunications quality management standard based on ISO 9001. The senior management team’s goal ofinstituting a formal QMS was driven in part by its own
In 50 Words Or Less
• Quality management system implementation requires establishing quality practices across all disciplines in the development cycle. • Electronic documentation libraries allow maintainability and adaptability. • Don’t get registered to the standard simply to meet a marketing goal; instead use TL 9000 to enhanceorganizational efficiency and effectiveness.
perceived need to have a disciplined product development process and in part by customer assessments of that process. The management team agreed the established QMS must conform to the requirements of an internationally recognized standard and formal registration to (or assessment against) the standard would be the best means to obtain independent validation.ISO 9001:1994,1 the emerging telecommunications industry quality standard TL 9000, release 2.5,2 and the Software Capability Maturity Model, version 1.1,3 were candidates. Ulticom decided to pursue registration to TL 9000, with eventual migration to TL 9000, release 3.0.4 Management believed TL 9000 was the most relevant quality standard to Ulticom’s business domain—the telecommunicationsindustry—and TL 9000 subsumed the requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard,5 by far the most widely recognized quality standard. Because of the close association of the ISO 9001 and TL 9000 QMS standards, most of Ulticom’s experiences and recommendations related to its TL 9000 QMS implementation are readily applicable to organizations that may be pursuing an ISO 9001 registration. The scope of theregistration was to cover about
I MARCH 2004 I www.asq.org
200 employees (from a total of about 250) in Mt. Laurel, NJ, and Sophia, France. The registration encompassed all activities pertaining to design, development, test, production and support of software and hardware for Ulticom’s flagship signaling product, Signalware. The process entailed establishing quality practices across alldisciplines in the software and hardware development cycle, including program management, product management, requirements engineering, software development and unit test, system integration, configuration management, system test, production, customer support and product maintenance.
Ulticom’s senior management team identified three key prerequisites for a successful TL9000 registration: 1. Active senior management involvement. 2. Establishment of a corporate quality assurance (QA) department. 3. Active staff participation. Active senior management involvement. Senior management’s commitment to quality had to be visible to the entire organization, and senior management had to have oversight over the implementation of the QMS. For this purpose, the qualityimprovement steering group (QISG), comprised of senior management across the entire organization, was established. The QISG convened every month to review Ulticom’s progress toward TL 9000 registration and discussed ongoing issues pertaining to quality, subcontractor performance and customer satisfaction. Such periodic management reviews of the QMS helped visibly demonstrate management’s commitment toquality and facilitated timely management intervention (when necessary). Corporate quality assurance department. Management recognized the need for adequate inhouse expertise to guide a successful implementation. It therefore directed the establishment of an adequately staffed and qualified corporate QA department. Active staff participation. Cross functional staff participation in the...