Tag Archives: Quality

Revisiting – Cloud Computing – Head in the Sand on Governance

I originally wrote this post over at Posterous and copied it to Blogger as a back-up, just in case. Well Posterous died in 2013, and at least I had a copy in Blogger – now I am revisiting as I back posts up in WordPress. And coincidentally I also attended a seminar recently where Cloud Computing was presented – and it was a case of “the same old .. same old”  … security, file recovery, backups, control, what happens if the The Cloud goes down  … not to mention when links morph into “Zombie Links” according to Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers. … so it’s time to run Linkvalet over some of my sites like Thomas MacEntee recommended .. and make that real soon !

From 2008 … As the Hype on Cloud started to ramp up in the social media universe …

It started as a trickle, but like a dripping tap, the flow kept up … for the last few weeks Cloud Computing keeps dropping into my email inbox. Probably something to do with Microsoft’s Blue Sky Horizon, then recently announced, venture into the field, with Windows Azure.

Like the dripping tap, I tried to ignore it as just more IT geek jargon. Finally curious enough, I clicked on one of the email hyperlinks … a new unintelligible taxonomy aka jargon emerged. It meant turning to Wikipedia, to get a plain English understanding of “Cloud Computing“….and a bit more at “How Stuff Works“. Funny how many Orgs frown on using Wikipedia, just like my old uni professor frowned on the Plain English style metallurgy textbook, used at the TAFE across the road, despite its friendlier “Gunning Fog” readibility ranking. In the end I found Robin Hastings‘ (Missouri River Regional Library) slideshare presentation & the Cloud Computing Glossary the most non-geek friendly.

Pic …. Although sometimes seen as threatening … The Cloud doesn’t have to be 

Realisation dawned .. I’d been a fledgling Cloud Computing user for a few years without realising … as I paid my EBay bills using PayPal, used Amazon Books payment system, Google maps, Blogger, Google Reader for RSS feeds (now it’s gone too, so I use Feedly !), LinkedIn, Yahoo Groups, Web based email, etc etc. Many say Cloud Computing is the next disruptive computing technology, just like the IBM Mainframe, Apple 2 computer and internet – Web 1.0/Web 2.0.

And why did I go to Google Reader back then for RSS feeds ? Probably because my Org didn’t seem to provide Readers for RSS feeds, or it was too hard to find out how, or its use was discouraged. Many other employees looked at me blankly when I asked about RSS feed? So it was easier just to go outside the system. If I found anything worthwhile, then I’d just archive it, email it around internally or capture really useful bits onto a Sharepoint Wiki Page.

Another stage for the Microsoft vs Sun Microsystems paradigm debacle, with Microsoft’s catch up commercialisation plans in offering a fee per use. “Cloud Computing” seems headed to SME’s, so they don’t have to outlay the capital for huge IT systems. Some commentators liken it to electricity and water utilities access and usage charging – where you don’t need your own generator, windmill or well. Consumers expect reliable and safe supply at rates that are not exorbitant. But what about governance ? After all it was a utility, Enron, that led to the Sarbanes Oxley legislation in the USA.

It was dawning that, like the rest of Web 2.0 applications, rather than head in the sand, avoiding Cloud Computing issues, those with governance roles, need to be asking questions of those with their heads in the clouds, looking to blue sky horizon possibilities. Those questions need to be fully answered, and not treated dismissively.

Starting with … Will Cloud Computing storage providers guarantee access to your information & records for as long as statutory regulations require, regardless of whether done in house or outsourced … sometimes decades ? A good question and one being posed on How Stuff Works – Cloud Computing Security Concerns page. Very pertinent in an era of increased regulatory constraints, following the financial global meltdown. But then Key IT decision makers fret about the cost of software licensing and what they may perceive to be excessive and unnecessary data storage, … forgetting the ramifications of not having data storage. Systems, which businesses need in order to operate, ie QMS, EMS, OHSMS, CRMS, FMS, have requirements to keep records for a very long time. Breach those and it could be a very costly threat to your business’s longevity. Some commentators seem to be recognising this concern.

What about production history systems – no matter if managed in-house or via “Cloud Computing” applications ? If your product identity codes are re-used in a “wrap around” situation, it might be tempting to cut costs and not archive the records of each wrap around sequence separately. But how do you know if the data is for item “Awxyz” produced in 2006 or for item “Awxyz” from 2009. 3rd Party quality auditors certifying your Quality Management Systems, and Factory Production Control Systems, could take a dim view of your cost cutting – not good, especially if you plan to export into the EU in Europe.

There’s the challenge – in line with James Robertson’s view of two uses for a wiki – to ensure governance, “command and control” rules where they’re needed – as well as to encourage collaborative environments with enabling support, hints and tips, to capture lessons learned, preventing key knowledge loss (refer egov.vic) . I decided to ask the “significant other”, one of the aforementioned IT geeks, about his exposure to Cloud Computing & governance issues, a pause, then he explained how it was being adopted by some organizations, as a Virtual Private Cloud to enable collaboration with external users, and yet maintain security. Gartnerpredicts a future in Private Clouds/Virtual Private Clouds approaches for large organizations.

If IT departments were worried about managing security concerns with Web 2.0’s Microsoft Sharepoint, they must be agonising over Governance and the full ramifications of Cloud Computing applications, eg Chieftech.blogspot. And again, despite all the proclamations, it will be a behavioural issue. Perhaps, looking at it from Web 2.0 experiences, if companies & quality management professionals have their heads in the sand, then the horses will bolt.

2014 Postscript – Tips from Thomas MacEntee

– check your terms of service – check if your files will be wiped if you don’t use them for 30 or 90 days – have an exit strategy if your provider drops out of the game …


Butter Chicken – Promoting Quality and Social Capital – an Oz-Indian Cross Cultural perspective – via an ASQ Influential Voice

Roped in … helping in the cooking of a Indian Butter Chicken Curry fundraiser. And so I had an interesting lesson in promoting Quality & Social Capital in my Teen’s High School Kitchen in Wollongong, a regional city 50 miles south of Sydney. An old post from Posterous … when as an ASQ Global Influential Voice for Quality, I’d shared my unexpected lesson in Quality during my day of Volunteering.

Experimenting with International Cuisines is one of my hobbies – see more at Kerrie’s Kitchen Magnets.

I had agreed to help out with the fundraising drive, of Butter Chicken, Beef Korma, Basmati Rice & Dahl, for our local Illawarra Disability Trust. I’ve long been a fan of Indian Food & own several books on Indian & Asian Food (Charmaine SolomonMadhur Jaffreyetc). Recently I’d seen “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful “ movie (due for release in the USA in May 2012 ?), which reminded me of travelling in India in the mid 1980’s & my love of Indian food.

And so I found myself helping with production of approximately 200 packs of Butter Chicken Curry, but not realising that I, as Metallurgist & Quality Manager, was about to receive a down to earth & practical lesson in promoting Quality by two very experienced Indian women cooks, one hailing from India itself, and the other, an Indian, originally from Kenya.

Coordinated by these two Indian women, another school Mum (aka Mom) & her friend, I noticed a number of quality aspects in the Curry fundraising activity :

  • a time-tested & true recipe was being followed – having been used successfully on previous curry drives for several decades
  • various marketing approaches were used – word of mouth, order forms at school & emails – with several reminders issued
  • customer focus – several time slots were offered for collecting the curries
  • outsourcing management – trusted suppliers were used to source the curry powder, chicken & other ingredients
  • resources management – ingredient quantities were checked & re-checked with the two experts conferring throughout the activity to calibrate that all was in control
  • OTJ on the job learning was employed with help & guidance gently provided throughout – and we had soon figured out each others’ accents to avoid any confusion
  • technology, online cloud ordering system & an excel spreadsheet, along with old fashioned hard copy order forms, were used to manage the 100’s of orders
  • differing quality of kitchen tools impacted operational efficiencies – having the right slotted spoon, or not etc
  • OHS – Safety was crucial when the huge stockpot of Butter Chicken was transported from Cooktop to Benches
  • Spec checks – final weights of the finished Butter Chicken packs were checked to make sure they were in “spec”
  • Labelling & Identification of all curry packs to ensure there was no mix-up between the Butter Chicken & Beef Korma – although visually they were quite different in colour.
  • Food Safety – all ingredients were supplied fresh, stainless steel benches in the school kitchen, no cross contamination of utensils for raw chicken & Coriander (aka Cilantro), not to mention all finished Curry packs were transferred to the fridge as soon as possible to reduce bacterial problems
  • Pride in the product appearance with guidance on final presentation – ie cleaning drips on the edges of the curry packs & Coriander (aka Cilantro) leaf garnishes to meet the high standards of our Indian mentors
  • Great cooperation from those working in the School Kitchen providing normal school day canteen/cafeteria services – ie no friction when we “occupied some of their usual territory”
  • Volunteer management – a nice touch with the school’s Marketing Director & Senior School Captains popping in & thanking the volunteers for their efforts to support the Illawarra Disability Trust fundraiser
  • Lots of Stories of how the individual curry packs would be shared across families & friends – viz one of mine was “gifted” to the partner of a workmate recovering in hospital from neural surgery – she spends almost every waking hour supporting him at the rehab hospital  & so had very few home cooked meals in the last three months

The outcome – an unexpected and practical lesson in promoting both Quality & Social Capital created by tired, but happy, volunteers supplying highly regarded & safe products to hundreds of eager customers – which raised money for a much needed local charity program.

Family History and Standards – a Necessary Evil – ASQ Blogger Kerrie Christian

There’s big business in tracing Family History or doing Genealogy – and there are a number of commercial players who dominate the market supplying software to family history enthusiasts. And of course there are conferences held across America and in Australia, UK etc etc. Truly big business.

Often these family enthusiasts  may have compiled huge volumes of information covering thousands of family members. And it is not so easy to move from one software to another – effectively creating walled gardens. However that position seems to be up for a challenge as there are moves afoot to set up standards for Family History Software.

My Great Great Uncle George Hicks– a Boer War  and WWI  hero  – shown  here with his wife Lou.

Recently ASQ’s Paul Borawski asked the ASQ Influential Bloggers to explore finding Quality Tools in Unusual Places as their theme for blogging. Family History is one of those seemingly unusual places. But on reflection is it so surprising? Well it’s all based on records and of course records management is a key “must” in the quality world. Although sometimes the quality of records can be challenging – as you’d expect really with 100’s of years of them from the handwritten-paper era.

Three generations of my family shown here circa 1950 – in our home town Thirroul, 50 miles south of Sydney

Nearly six months ago I inherited the family history archives following the passing of my mother. There photographs and other items dating back to the 1880’s, along with so many other items. My husband had been collaborating with my mother using the Brothers Keeper software over the last 15 years so I wasn’t starting from a zero base. In a previous post I wrote of using social media tools for quality, so it wasn’t a great stretch to extrapolate this approach to our family history. I set up a few WordPress sites to share the information and photographs with my wider family. Some all it Genealogy 2.0 – Wikis, Google +, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook applications etc etc. The TV series Who Do You Think You Are ? tapped into push for people to uncover their roots.

In particular I used Google Reader and RSS feeds to monitor trends and ideas in Family History internationally. And so the questions emerged of which software package to use going forward – to stick with what we had to use one of the newer on-line packages ?

Some of the gurus had carefully analysed some of the four big guns of the Genealogy Software world, FindMyPast, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and MyHeritage. There are also Mundia, WikiTree, Rootsweb, WorldVitalRecords, Geni.com, Mocavo, Legacy and more.  And the old off-line standby Brothers Keeper – so there’s the question of On-Line vs Local Software. Some of the gurus pointed that their data didn’t always map across properly on moving to another software platform. Hmmm. And with the evolution of mobile web technology on Smartphones and Tablets there are Apps emerging for Genealogy on the Go !

A small family get together in February 2013 where I shared some of our families stories of the last 175 years – using information form Brothers Keeper Family Tree software and our WordPress Family History sites.

Out of that has emerged the Family History Information Standards Organisation, FHISO, formed in 2012. They acknowledge that GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunications) has been the “Industry Standard” over the last decade. seem to be drawing on ISO, NISO,  ANSI and the European Union for inspiration in the creation of a standard for Family History data systems.

Quoting their web site …

“The Family History Information Standards Organisation (http://fhiso.org/) was created to develop international standards based on the principles of diversity and due process. Standards developed by the organization will better meet the different and competitive needs of all service providers, program developers and users–globally.
Genealogists and technologists will work side by side to define needs and develop solutions. This will provide for a standard that more closely matches universal community requirements.
 Users will enjoy greater functionality and be in the best position to exchange information with other users and between programs. They will be able to connect with information services of their choosing.
 Developers will be able to adopt a single standard with the confidence that their product meets expressed community requirements.
 Service providers benefit because more programs and customers will be able to conveniently access their services.”

They are aiming for a system which is :

  • Open
  • Multi-stakeholder
  • International
  • Self-governing
  • Balanced
Clearly this is an emergent area for a quality focused approach !