Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/24/verity_stob/

I Married a Monster from ISO 9000

We're getting harried in the morning

By Verity Stob

Posted in Verity Stob, 24th May 2010 09:02 GMT

Stob We had our quality audit the other week. Its cadences seemed curiously familiar.

The solemnisation of the quality system

The service is traditionally held in the offices of a software house, as a St Audit's day substitute for matins.

The congregation are gathered in the programmers' kitchenette, sipping coffee.

Opening procession

The Quality Manager and Managing Director process through the office, regarding with dismay the documents strewn across desks, semi-dismantled PCs, disordered shelves, age-faded xkcd cartoons taped to monitors in a fire- and hap- hazard manner, overflowing paper-recycling facilities and so on. The service begins with the prayer for tidiness.

Prayer for tidiness

Managing Director: Oh God. Make speed to clean up!

The Congregation: Oh Christ! Is it the audit?

Quality Manager: Oh God, you had forgotten?

Managing Director: If any person here knows any just reason why the auditor should not recertify us today, let him hold his peace now or forever sod off.

The Congregation: Amen.

First hymn

Quality Manager: Let us rise, and sing the first hymn.

We hide the dross and scatter
The good stuff in full view.
But does it really matter
Our metrics are askew?
With nonconforming product,
What can we hope to gain?
The prize for our misconduct
Is soft, refreshing pain.

Of all the software standards
Nine kay's the one we hate.
But thank the Lord, yes thank the Lord,
S'not six-one-five-oh-eight.

Arrival of the auditor

Then a phone is rung three times, and N shall answer it.

N: There's a Stephen MacBride in reception for you, Linda. The auditor?

Quality Manager: Ok. I had better go and fetch him.

The Congregation: Very well. We will wait here.

The Congregation may then sing:

Here comes MacBride / We rather hoped he'd died.

The exchange of worldly goods

Managing Director: Hi, Stephen. How are things? Are you good?

Auditor: Morning Adam. Yes, I'm good. Are you both good? Is everybody good?

Managing Director: I'm good too.

N: I'm good.

M: I'm good, thanks.

The Congregation: We're all good!

Quality Manager:  I am quite well, thank you.

(There is five seconds horrified silence at the Quality Manager's impropriety.)

Preaching to the choir

Auditor: Thought I was going to get here early for once. Should have got here half-an-hour ago - broken points. That's trains for you!

The Congregation: That is indeed trains for you. Amen.

Quality Manager:  Will you have a coffee? I seem to remember you take milk?

Auditor: I do.

Quality Manager:  And one-and-a-half sugars?

Auditor: I do.

The Congregation: We are out of sugar. I shall go and get some.

Managing Director: Don't all go. How many people does it take to buy a bag of sugar? Let N go.

N: I don't need to go. M's got some sugar in her locker!

The mumbled prayer of M

M, sotto voce: Take. Eat. This is my bloody...

Managing Director: M!

The making of small talk

Then the Auditor and the Quality Manager and the Managing Director sit in the boardroom and make small talk together, which may concern:

the inequity of local parking, and the likely-vain hope that the newly-elected council of opposite political complexion may do something about it

OR

what's the fuss about iPhones? They are no better than they should be and twice as expensive: as soon as we got them all the wives had to have them too (this latter point discussed during the Quality Manager's coffee-fetching absence)

OR

have you heard about the new TickIT Plus? They reckoned that the old standard was a bit moribund, certification has levelled off over the last year or two. Don't quote me on this, but it is ridiculously over the top. They are going after the big boys, but I doubt if even they will wear it.

although if the last topic is chosen, the conversation is necessarily one-sided.

The first lesson

Managing Director: I suppose, Stephen, haha, this is just a formality, really, this visit?

Auditor: I failed a company couple of months back, certified twice as long as you, mind. Yesterday, they phoned to cancel the re-audit because they had gone bust.

Managing Director: Urp.

The ordeal

Then the Auditor selects some projects, and some victims, and subjects each one to a lengthy catechism:

Auditor: And did you, M or N, test this software?

Selected Victim: Absolutely. Yes. Definitely. I think.

Auditor: And where would we find the test specifications?

Selected Victim: In the project documents. I'll just click here, and... oh. Hold on.

Auditor: Have you not got the test specifications?

Selected Victim: Um... Well, perhaps in a small project like this, maybe we didn't bother to...

Auditor: Shall I take it that you performed no test on this occasion?

Selected Victim: It would seem that, um... no, wait! Wait! We did this on the old server. That means the test specs will be in the old directory. Ah yes, here we are. Look. Phew, ha-ha. All in good order. There you go.

Auditor: That is a factory acceptance test. Your procedure says you also do a site acceptance test. So where is...?

Selected Victim: Um. Now, hold on. This is a comparatively small project...

Etcetera for hours, with just one break for:

The luncheon hymn

The luncheon hymn is a duet, with the Auditor and the Managing Director taking one verse each, as follows:

Managing Director:

There is a Green Man quite nearby,
Within a briskish walk,
Where we can get a pint of Pride,
Or maybe pop a cork?

Auditor:

I may not drink for I must drive,
So that rules out the inn.
Please send the girl to Marks and Sparks
To get some sarnies in.

Suffer little children

During the ordeal period, the remainder of the Congregation behave like sweet little children in church:

N, via IM: Fatboy AUDITOR hath let one go!

The Congregation: <suppresses sniggers inadequately>

M, via IM: How U kno?

N, via IM: How U think I kno?!!!?!!? Mingingest. Trousa. Trembla. Evvvva.

The Congregation: <sniggers some more>

M, via IM: I closer than U. Smell nuffin!

N, via IM: ISO 9k auditors R expert directional farters. Fatboy must have dropped one down the diagonal.

The Congregation: <helpless and red-faced with mirth>

Quality Manager, turning round and mouthing desperately: Stop mucking about you idiots!

Auditor: Is there something wrong?

Quality Manager: No, no. I just thought I would, um, that is...

Auditor: Shall we carry on, then? How would you prove that you knew that you'd tested what you said you would prove that you knew that you'd tested?

The signing of the report

Auditor: Can I sit somewhere quiet for a while, so I can write up my report?

Managing Director: Sure, have the boardroom. I don't suppose you could tell me, um, I mean I may have to go early... so if you could just let me know...

Auditor: Thank you.

Nunc dimittis

After 30 minutes, the Auditor emerges from the boardroom, and summon the Quality Manager and the Managing Director. The Congregation watches respectfully and quietly.

Auditor: Ok, well nothing much to say there, except: well done. No non-conformities. Suggest you might look into doing something about your bug statistics. It's all in my report; gimme a memory stick and I'll put it on it. But all round pretty good. See you in nine months.

Final hymn and blessing

The Congregation sings:

What a friend we have in Stephen,
What a splendid bloke he is.
We are always pleased to see him,
We would never take the Stephen really is the biz.
Stephen helps us with our process,
MacBride makes quality an art.
We can't get enough of Stephen -
Now it's time he did depart.

Managing Director: Thanks very much for that, Stephen. I'll see you to the door. Hope for a better journey this time, eh? And one thing...

Auditor: Yes?

Managing Director: I thought you looked lovely.

Auditor: Eh?

The Congregation then may sing the rarely-heard, contraversial second verse:

Now this bloody thing is over
Oh how happy we shall be.
We shall ship our code untested
Stuff the effing quality.
No reviewing Gavin's Java
No re-choir-ment specs to check.
In due course we will regret this,
'Til then we do not give a feck.

Amen.

Then a collection is taken on behalf of the Wounded Veterans of BS 5750 Association, and, as after many conventional religious services, everyone repairs to the pub. ®