SLASSCOM Quality & Business Excellence Summit 2015


On the 30th of September, we were at the Galadari Hotel for the third annual Quality & Business Excellence Summit 2015 organized by SLASSCOM. This time the summit revolve around the theme; quality engineering and business excellence in the era of technical disruptions. We had industry renowned speakers onboard and no doubt, it was a day full of knowledge and inspiration to all the participants. So what did we learn from this experience? Let’s take a look.

Continuous Improvement as a Fundamental Requirement

Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka
Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

The first keynote speech, it was Dr. Lal Gunasinghe, Head of Continuous Improvement Initiatives – Singapore Airlines. He began his talk by focusing on quality concepts.

“There’s no room for error in my field, quality isn’t a matter of choice it’s mandatory.” – Dr. Lal Gunasinghe

Doctor Gunasinghe then moved on to speak about how Singapore Airlines maintains quality and customer focus. “Quality assurance and quality control aren’t the same.” He went in detail about the quality process of SIA. He then did a walkthrough of COPQ or which is also known as the Cost of Poor Quality. “CEOs understand numbers, this is for them.” Quality being a tough factor to measure, he encouraged the audience to use these type of methods to be taken into their practice, which would be beneficial for maintaining rich quality standards and also the growth of the organization. The iron triangle was one other topic that he touched on.

Next he spoke about what leads to poor quality. He stated that it is a necessity to build quality into the system itself.

“Quality is everybody’s responsibility. Of course we can recover an aircraft but not lives.” – Dr. Lal Gunasinghe

“Engineers don’t like details, they want things to get done. That’s why SIA have implemented the maintenance checklist. This is how you get quality into maintenance and to the systems. You just have to put it as a part of the process, not a standalone action.”

Closing his session, Doctor Gunasinghe discussed how you combine the standardization and innovation. An interesting topic due to the contradicting concepts. “We are here to make money. Therefore, we have to keep revising the standards. Innovation is there to keep us in business.”

“You can’t sell the product that you sold 25 years ago the same way today. Your customers have changed. You need to move on. The younger generation doesn’t think in the same way” – Dr. Lal Gunasinghe

He ended his talk with these notes:

“Remember! Hope is not a Strategy! Talk is not a Plan! Email is not an Action!”

Experiencing Lean Quality Systems, Processes & Product Improvement

From Left: Mr. John Allen and Mr. Ken Kikuchi Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka
From Left: Mr. John Allen and Mr. Ken Kikuchi

Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

This was a skype session by Mr. John Allen, Chairman at Total Systems Development Inc. accompanied with Mr. Ken Kikuchi, President, Commercial Sector, TSD, Inc. Here they spoke on lean quality systems, processes, and product improvement covers the entire manufacturing spectrum.

They discussed the Toyota Production System (TPS) developed by Toyota, that comprises its management philosophy and practices. The common lean manufacturing process we have today happens to be a philosophy derived from the very same concept. It’s all about eliminating waste within the system.

The duo then moved on to speak about The Toyota Way. The set of principles and behaviors that are responsible for Toyota’s managerial approach and production system.

Next up was Mr. Asitha Madurawala, a Lean Manufacturing Consultant from Brandix and talked on how they applied lean process to apparel. He stated that they have drastically reduced the cycle of production from 100 odd days to around 70 days with the corporation with TSD.

“Through lean concepts how do you engage the employees? It’s mainly through the leadership. Systems drives behavior, behavior drives the culture.” – Asitha Madurawala

He revealed how a few changes in the production line took down around 25% off the cost of quality. Answering a question raised by a participant; “What kinds of resistance and problems did you face when implementing lean?” He said, “It’s all about what you have in it for me and what is in it for you. We first implemented the lean strategies in one of our worst lines. Once they saw the value, everyone was motivated. Leadership sets the direction.”

The Criteria of Quality in the Age of Big Data & Industrial IoT

Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka
Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

Mr. Tore Foss the Group CEO of Garnes Gruppen was up next. Disruption has become quite a catch phrase in the software industry today. Mr. Foss spoke about how they use disruptive methods in their technologies at QiCode and how they do it without disrupting their business.

“Is too much quality a problem? Yes, it is. When this happens you get late to deliver and also might spend money on useless things” – Tore Foss

In his keynote speech, Mr. Foss spoke about the cost of poor quality. From there he touched on the concept of Minimum Required Quality (MRQ). To simplify things, he said MRQ can be defined as the MVP from the perspective of quality. “It is crucial to getting that idea to market in as little time, with as few resources, providing as much value (ROI) to our clients as we can”

“Ideas come and go. The problem is that lots of ideas lack sustainable quality.” – Tore Foss

Panel Discussion

From Left: Mr. Sisira Kumara, Mr. Chandika Mendis, Mr. Conrad Dias, Dr. Lal Gunasinghe, Mr. Tore Foss Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka
From Left: Mr. Sisira Kumara, Mr. Chandika Mendis, Mr. Conrad Dias, Dr. Lal Gunasinghe, Mr. Tore Foss

Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

Next on the agenda was the panel discussion, the best thing here was that the panel was a mix from different areas and fields of expertise who spoke on one subject; quality. The panelists were Dr. Lal Gunasinghe, Mr. Chandika Mendis – Virtusa, Mr. Tore Foss and Mr. Conrad Dias – LOLC. Summing things up this is a brief of the best thoughts that came out:

Mr. Chandika Mendis:

Trends change. How testing and QA is done has evolved.

In many cases, quality plays the second place; make quality a culture in the developers.

Mr. Conrad Dias:

We are experimenting an approach to merge the quality engineer and the business analyst to reduce the gap for a better understanding about the users and the system.

We need to have a paradigm shift in our thinking and quality. When the company reaches a certain stage, you need to uplift the limits you define for the MRQ.

Dr. Lal Gunasinghe:

In-flight entertainment has changed. Customers want the smart features that they are used to experience with their smart devices. They demand more and more. Though they fly, they need to remain connected.

Quality is the driving force. That’s what we talk about in airworthiness. It’s heavily regulated and standardized. But things like this could happen too; Japan airlines one of the extreme quality obsessed companies which resulted in the company to bankrupt because of it.

Mr. Tore Foss:

Speed is an important matter in our business. We need to maintain the minimum required quality.

There’ll be doctors who will log in into you in the future. Therefore cyber security like factors will be prominent.

Track Sessions

After the lunch, the summit broke down into two tracks; Business & Process Excellence and Quality Engineering. Each track had its own sessions, 3 sessions per track with each happening simultaneously We had to choose one session at a time and the ones which we thought were interesting. Here’s what we learned at those sessions.

Visual Communication with User Centric Design

Mr. Alain Parizeau
Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

Starting off the track sessions it was Mr. Alain Parizeau, Head of Graphic Design – AOD who took the stage first. His session revolved around the 4 qualities of good UI design. His presentation included practical examples as well as inspiration and advice how you could incorporate those concepts into your products to make it a loveable one by its users.

‘Good design is empathetic.’ Personalized and an emotional message will build stronger connections. Meaning delivery of the content in such a manner that the user feels a value addition to him in using the service. ‘Good design is reciprocal.’ Start a conversation with your user; earn their trust first… ‘Good design is diagnostic.’ Investigate the root of the problem.

“When you are designing something, always think of what you can give to the user.” – Alain Parizeau

‘Good design is adaptable’ Responsive graphic communication or simply this was about responsive design. Best example; Google’s new branding.

Mobile Testing Strategy in a Digital Landscape

Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka
Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

Our next speaker was Mr. Kanchana Wickramasinghe, a Senior Manager – Specialist, Virtusa Corporation. Testing isn’t new, so why is mobile testing a different story? This was the base for Kanchana’s talk.

“As an industry, we are at a very early stage in mobile testing” – Kanchana Wickramasinghe

Kanchana explored the challenges they face in the development industry. “We are producing apps for Millennials. They are concerned about privacy-rich content and better User Experience.” He further stated that one would never know the real UX unless you test things out in real life conditions, like what would happen to the app when you get a call.

He then walked through the different options available for a disruptive testing strategy.

“Does automating testing work? Do they bring you ROI? If no, what’s the use?” – Kanchana Wickramasinghe

Kanchana didn’t forget to share some expert advice before wrapping things up:

  • Think Lean
    • Invest low
    • Do not go blindly for FOSS simply because it’s free
  • Think E2E and not in silos
  • Use technology and tools as much as possible
  • Take calculated risks

Lean Management in a Business Context

Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka
Image Courtesy: SLASSCOM Sri Lanka

Mr. Viren Perera the Senior Vice President – Accenture Lanka (Pvt) Ltd was on stage to teach how to work hard while playing hard. He spoke about the business excellence framework where he explained each step of it.

“Happier your team is, the better they will work.” – Viren Perera

The next step is continuous improvement. How you do it, you must track the changes in your customer and make Improvements a day to day process. Quick tip; set reward distribution systems to encourage Improvements and review improvements continuously.

As we mentioned before there were three sessions which were happening. They included a session by Mr. Malinda Mapatuna, Associate Architect Quality Engineering – Pearson Lanka (Pvt) Limited on ‘Next Generation Performance Engineering’, ‘Quality Engineering for Mission Critical Systems’ by Gayath Ratnayaka, AVP -Software Engineering, MillenniumIT and the only lady speaker for the summit Ms.Thushara Wijewardena ,Chief Project Offi­cer – Exilesoft on ‘Maintaining quality in remote team context’.


With the track sessions, it marked the conclusion of the third annual Quality & Business Excellence Summit 2015. A full day of talks. What every speaker tried to highlight was that quality must be made a critical phase in every development and should not be a factor which you compromise as it is done today. Also, the concept of continuous improvement is the key to a sustainable business.


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