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Should software have industry-wide SHEQ standards?

Chronicles of Experience

SHEQ?  What is it and how do we apply it to emerging innovations in technology and software? 

SHEQ is an acronym for Safety, Health, Environment and Quality.  It is usually used as shorthand to refer to the ethical KPIs of any business operation.  Are you treating your people well enough?  Are there any safety concerns?  Will your business here leave irreparable damage to the environment?  Are you delivering products and services of consistent quality?

So, it is easy to image how these concerns may be applied to a mine or factory, but software seems almost too harmless to cause any real trouble.  If anything goes wrong you just switch off the device, right?

This is not quite the case.  

SHEQ Questions for Software:

Safety: This is probably the question most often asked about software.  Is it safe and secure?  A programme can do its job just fine, but still be a Trojan horse full of nasty viruses that can destroy lives.  Think about online banking and key tracking, spyware that records everything in your house or office or ransomware that can cost you millions.

software security

Health: We are spending too much time glued to screens and it is having some adverse effects on our health, more specifically our eyes.  There are two solutions software can provide for this problem: The first is obviously to be as efficient as possible so you can get the work done and go outside.  The second is Dark Mode, the new innovation that is spreading like wildfire for its wide range of benefits.  Not least amongst them is keeping dangerous eye degradation at bay.

Environment: Most software already has this one covered.  Doing something from a computer is likely to reduce the need to do so physically, on paper for example.  Those physical jobs usually have a much bigger carbon footprint than any one programme ever could.

Quality: In the software industry this roughly translates to maintenance and support.  The programme should run consistently and back up should be on hand to ensure that any issues are swiftly dealt with.  A windows update could crash your system in minutes without the foresight of updating the programme to match.  So, if you are thinking of contracting new software development to a company without a maintenance and support structure, perhaps it is time to reconsider. 

Ask these questions of your software developers or risk having the foundations crumble around you.  Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

1 Comment

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