To do quality assurance or not do quality assurance? Is that really the question?
Many business unit leaders soliloquize this question as they struggle to determine the value of quality. Lack of accountability in monitoring and controlling the business case ROI is a driver to this struggle. For example, portfolio manager’s goals and incentives are designed to release the “current” year’s initiatives as quick as they can and as cheap as they can. This pressure along with poorly delivered and understood requirements causes squeezed schedules resulting in quality becoming low priority. QA is the first “expense” to cut. At project completion, the initiative can be checked off the list as we happily head toward completing our portfolio goal. The danger here is true project costs can get hidden or ignored especially when resources are scheduled back to fix quality issues after a release. This then causes resource allocation and capacity challenges for new initiatives creating an out of sync inefficient delivery system. This scenario unfortunately plays out daily because of the poor decisions around the perception…quality is expensive and slow.
To actually increase release management efficiency and throughput, executive management must lead with quality. There’s never been a more cost efficient time than now to incorporate and champion quality disciplines. Test automation tools have made it easier to control project costs and increase product quality. Automated tests can run fast and frequently, which is cost-effective for software products with a long maintenance life. When testing in an agile environment, the ability to quickly react to ever-changing software systems and requirements is necessary. New test cases are generated continuously and can be added to existing automation in parallel to the development of the software itself. Quality then becomes a definitive element in the success criteria for the “definition of done”.
To do quality assurance or not do quality assurance should never be a question.
Great quality, like great customer service, should be a core value intertwined within the company’s DNA. I’m a firm believer the great companies differentiate themselves from the pack by their strict adherence to quality assurance. If you want to lead in the market place, lead with quality.
Derek Cheek is a leader in Program Management / IT Alignment.