Software Quality

December 26, 2009

Poor product testing is bad for business and VERY expensive

Filed under: Case Study — Tags: , , — David Allen @ 11:08 pm

Poor product testing allowed a software defect to reach production, creating a very expensive problem for Sears and LG Electronics USA.    Several new Sears Kenmore models had software defects which prevented effective cleaning.  This apparently was not discovered until Consumer Reports did their usual rigorous and objective evaluation of the washing in comparison with other products.  So, why did Consumer Report’s testers detect the poor washing performance before Sears or LG did? Here is an excerpt from the article:

Our product-information specialist who handles laundry appliances also got a call from Sears, who informed him that LG engineers had determined that the machine had a software problem. That issue was shortening the wash cycle and preventing the rinse cycle from doing its full job, according to Lori Wood, a director of product management for Sears. (The problem stems from an algorithm issue with the software.) In addition to the Kenmore 4027, Kenmore 4044, Kenmore Elite 4051, and Kenmore Elite 4219 are affected by the software issue.

The full article is here.  According to the article, Sears had contracted for several years to Whirlpool, who made the Kenmore models for Sears.  Then Sears switched manufacturers to LG Electronics, USA. The software is embedded in the electronics. How much will this cost Sears?

  • Sears will mail letters to affected customers (administrative cost)
  • Sears will send service personnel (skilled labor cost) to install a new controller board (hardware cost)
  • Sears will delay shipment of current orders by up to two weeks to allow those models to be retrofitted with the new electronics
  • LG electronics is updating the electronics and software
  • Reputation of Sears and the Kenmore washers are injured
  • Reputation of LG Electronics is injured

And they lost a sale because my partner and I bought another model instead.

Bless their hearts. 

And 7 days later, another blog from Consumer Reports reveal’s that LG’s models have a similar glitch.

Bless their poor little hearts. 

This is a learning moment for Sears and LG. Let’s hope they learn from it.  I would love to be privy to the conversations within Sears offices.

And you and I can learn from it as well. We can use these incidents to remind our colleagues and customers that the cost of quality is nothing compared to the cost of failure.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi,

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    Comment by simi — January 2, 2010 @ 9:11 am

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