Friday, January 8, 2010

Standards do not mean high quality - they simply mean a standard for quality

I recently had occasion to visit the Canadian Standards Association web site, and was greeted by this message:

Perhaps it's just me, but I was amused by the generic reference to "6:00PM." Since Canada has six time zones (Nunavut alone spans three), what does "6:00PM" mean?

But I was more amused by the downtime. If Twitter or FriendFeed is down for more than five minutes, the earth stops spinning. Even game providers are hesitant to bring their games down for more than one hour. Yet someone thinks that a four-hour downtime for the CSA web site is an acceptable "standard."

This illustrates one misconception about standards. Standards themselves do not automatically make things better. Standards provide a measurable baseline, which you can then use to improve the quality of your product, and verify that your product has higher quality than it had previously.

For example, if I were to visit the CSA web site in January 2011, and if I were then informed that the web site would be down for three hours, CSA representatives could claim a 25% improvement in product quality.

If quality is not measured - for example, if CSA were to say (in two languages) that the system was down and would be up later, then there is no baseline that can be used to measure the level of quality, or quality improvements.

But I'm still amused by the fact that a four-hour website downtime, occurring while a good chunk of the country is still at work, is considered to be acceptable...
blog comments powered by Disqus