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Part I: Yes, Software Quality Strategy is a Requirement For Comprehensive QA 

We all understand that software quality is a critical aspect of modern software development. There are countless metrics that can be tracked, business value that can be attributed to the quality of software, and cautionary tales in news cycles driven by critical issues that make their way to production. Yet, in many cases, organizations still fail to define and implement a quality strategy. Instead of applying the same engineering principles they do to software development, they fumble their way through software testing. 

The truth, however, is that software testing shouldn’t be seen as a separate task. Instead, it should be an integral part of your software development lifecycle. This holistic approach requires a comprehensive strategy that maximizes resource allocation, speeds up release velocity, and reduces costs.

In this first part of our blog series on creating a software quality strategy, we delve into the fundamental concepts of software quality and what it means for your organization.

What is Software Quality?

For the sake of clarity, let’s layer in some textbook definitions. Software quality refers to the degree to which a software product meets the requirements and expectations of its users. It encompasses various aspects, including:

  • Functionality: The extent to which the software performs its intended functions correctly and efficiently.
  • Reliability: The software’s ability to consistently deliver accurate results under various conditions and over time.
  • Usability: The ease of use and user experience provided by the software interface.
  • Accessibility: The extent to which the software provides inclusive experiences for those with disabilities such as vision impairments, hearing disabilities, and other physical and cognitive disabilities.  
  • Performance: The responsiveness, speed, and efficiency of the software when subjected to a particular load or volume of use. 
  • Security: The protection of data, resources, and functionalities from unauthorized access, attacks, and vulnerabilities.

However, more important than a textbook definition is the value your organization and team attach to software quality. It’s important to explore what software quality means to your company. How is software quality discussed at the water cooler? Is it held in high regard or just something that must happen?  Is it clear who owns quality in your organization? Does everyone understand and support the required investment? 

Knowing the answers to these questions is imperative to understanding what software quality is to your organization. You can’t chart a journey or make a plan to improve unless you understand where you are starting from.  Otherwise, you’ll find you’ve traveled a path only to find it was never the right one.  

So, how do you find the answers necessary to build a strategy? Follow the steps below: 

Step 1: Define Software Quality as it Applies to Your Company 

Something along the lines of: 

At Acme Corporation, we believe that software quality is a   part of our software delivery process. We are committed to investing XX% of the overall development budget to quality.  We hold that at Acme Corporation is responsible for ensuring products we ship meet our client’s expectations of quality.  We look at quality across several dimensions, including (list dimensions). 

Step 2: Get Feedback and Buy-In

Share your definition of software quality with others in your organization, ensuring representation from several teams. Did they agree with the statement?  If so, great. You know what software quality means to your organization and where you are starting on the journey. If they don’t, then you know the disconnects you need to address.

Communicating the Importance of Software Quality

Finding alignment on the software quality statement isn’t often easy due to a lack of understanding of its importance. So, it is crucial that you define software quality in a way that appeals to various stakeholders based on what is important to them.  First, let’s look at some reasons why high-quality software is crucial: 

  • Customer Satisfaction: Quality software meets user needs effectively, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Reduced Costs: Addressing quality issues early in the development process reduces rework, maintenance costs, and potential liabilities.
  • Competitive Advantage: Quality software sets businesses apart from competitors, attracting more customers and opportunities.
  • Risk Mitigation: Quality assurance practices minimize the risks of defects, failures, and security breaches.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Many industries have strict quality standards and regulations that must be met for legal and ethical reasons.

Now, map those reasons to the stakeholders. For example, the Chief Financial Officer may respond best to reduced costs, whereas the Chief Product Officer may care about client satisfaction over costs. Quality means different things to everyone, so it is important to appeal directly to your stakeholders to gain buy-in. 

It may take a few iterations, but with focus, you will eventually gain agreement on your initial quality statement. Then, you’ll need to make one final update to layer in the key performance indicators.  Consider adding this statement:

By delivering high-quality software products, we believe there will be a positive impact on several key performance indicators, including (list impacted KPIs).

Congratulations! You’ve now crafted a quality statement specific to your company. This will become the guiding principle for your overall testing strategy, which we will explore in part 2 of this blog series.