Through one lens, creating software is a lonely process: People coding away in silent, siloed isolation, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The SAS view: That’s no way to work if you want quality software. As my colleagues and I mark World Quality Day 2020, one thing is clear: Carefully orchestrated communication creates the kind of culture that fosters quality software.
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Silo-busting, employee connections key for quality culture
Quality Week is a big deal here. Yearly since 2014, we have set aside one week for employees to share knowledge, practice skills and meet new people. The focus is not just on the technical side of quality, but the human side as well. Quality Week events are designed to break down silos and foster new connections that can lead to innovation.
But how is that done? How can silos of information be broken down?
SAS does it by bringing together disparate groups of people whose paths wouldn't cross on a typical workday. They connect through venues and formats that encourage conversations focused on defining:
- A quality organization
- Quality software
- What quality means to you
How we're baking quality into our culture
Planning and delivering this year’s Quality Week events had special challenges, as all activities had to be virtual. During the planning phase, we made extra effort to foster conversations and help people forge new network connections within the company. Some examples:
Lightning Talks: 5- to 10-minute talks, followed by participant questions. With Q&A, the total time investment for participants is fewer than 25 minutes. Benefits: highly interactive, minimal time commitment for presenters and attendees and easy to log on and listen.
Innovation Storms: Practical workshops that allow participants to not just learn but do. Leaders go beyond demonstrations to teach their peers how to install and use a tool or solution. Benefit: Small sessions (five to 15 participants) allow for hands-on coaching and extensive interaction.
Virtual Conference: A session following a more traditional conference format. In a one-day, two-track event, expert presenters provide in-depth expositions on their topics, followed by Q&A.
Executive AMA: An online forum with executives from different divisions answering attendees’ questions. Quality starts at the top of an organization. The transparency and willingness to engage in tough conversations reinforces the importance of quality.
Quality culture taps the power of diversity, inclusion
A variety of perspectives is critical. The following events helped us cast the widest-possible net:
#SheHacks: A hackathon for girls 8-18. Encouraging and developing the next generation of quality coders, SAS teamed up with Girl Geek Academy.
Global events: SAS offices in Pune and Beijing hold Quality Week events in conjunction with the US event. Presentations from all venues are recorded and shared so that cross-pollination occurs not only across different areas of expertise, but also cultures.
Our theme this year, The Many Voices of Quality, celebrates the diversity that makes quality possible. Quality benefits from all forms of diversity. To fulfill that mission, Quality Week topics this year cover not only software development, but also the broader landscape of sales, marketing, communication and compliance, among others.
This year’s Quality Week highlights those voices in sessions on our commitment to supplier diversity, environmental sustainability, and customer satisfaction. Collaboration between Quality Week and SAS’ Black Initiatives Group bring additional perspectives to the table.
The journey towards higher quality belongs to many voices. Quality Week events allow those voices to be highlighted and heard.