Each year, Ministry of Testing launch a #30DaysOfTesting challenge. This year the topic is ‘Quality‘. The challenge began in March, but I was a little late getting started. So, throughout April and May, I’m going to be publishing a series of blog posts where I share my progress.

Day 9 – Contribute to a discussion on The Club about ‘Quality’

There is a lot of discussion around ‘What Quality Is?’ but few people seem to be asking, “Who Decides Quality?”

The following quote is often used when defining quality:

“Quality is value to some person (who matters, at some point in time)”

Jerry Weinberg (with additions by James Bach and Michael Boltons)

I was especially interested in learning who that person might be and why they matter. To answer this question, I decided to create my own discussion. This was posted on The Club and LinkedIn.

There needs to be a clear direction for quality, and this doesn’t usually come from a software tester or a QA (Quality Assurance). It could be argued that QA’s don’t actually take part in ‘assuring quality’. However I believe we do to some extent. We assure that the application meets a specified level of quality – but we don’t decide what that level of quality should be.

Who decides quality? Is it a single person? Is it multiple people?

It won’t be the user. The application will be based on what the user wants or needs, but the user will rarely be the one making the decisions. These are made by someone within the business.

For Day 4 of the 30 Days of Quality challenge, I analyzed different perspectives of quality from the point of view of other members of the team. This demonstrated that impacts and risks varied depending on their job role.

Involving too many people in the discussion could lead to conflicts about what the priorities should be. However, the subjective nature of quality indicates the need to gather information from as many teams as possible. The end-user may only see the application in its entirety, but its made up of many smaller components – each one of these is essential.

We should finding out what the perceived risks are from all stakeholders. Do we hold the priorities of some stakeholders higher than others? That depends on the priorities of the business, which are not likely to be fixed.

One thing that everyone can agree on is that there must be a clear direction for quality. Everyone needs to know what is important and what the business goals are. Without understanding this, we will not be able to contribute efficiently the applications overall quality.

Conclusion

One thing this task changed about my own perception of quality was that there is an overall perception of quality, and all the individual components that contribute to that perception. If a single one of those components breaks, then the quality of the application will take a dramatic dip. Therefore quality cannot be attributed to a single person or team.

We should contribute to improving the quality of each component, as this in turn will improve the quality of the entire application.

Further Reading

What is Quality? – Aleksis Tulonen, Flow of Testing
Who Decides Quality on LinkedIn – Link for discussion on LinkedIn
Who Decides Quality on The Club – Link for discussion on The Club

Sketchnotes

Here are some sketch-notes that I created while reading through discussion responses, plus some of my own thoughts and ideas.

#30DaysOfTesting – Progress so far

  • Day 1 – Lookup some definitions of what ‘Quality’ is and share your own definition on The Club
  • Day 2 – Read and share a blog post on Quality
  • Day 3 – Pick a book to read that discusses ‘Quality’ and share on The Club why you’ve chosen it
    • Will be completed along with Day 30
  • Day 4 – Capture five different perspectives on Quality and share their similarities and differences.
  • Day 5 – Get some members of your team to join you in a game of Quality Jenga
    • Can’t complete due to COVID-19 Pandemic. Not sure how to play Jenga when everyone is working from home.
  • Day 6 – Find out what ‘Quality’ means to your teammates
  • Day 7 – Follow 5 people on social media who are sharing or working around ‘Quality’
  • Day 8 – Sit with your team and find out how you’re building ‘Quality’ into their work
  • Day 9 – Contribute to a discussion on The Club about ‘Quality’
  • Day 10 – Find and read feedback from your customers. What does this tell you about the quality of your product?
  • Day 11 – Watch the AMA on Quality Engineering and join the conversation on The Club
  • Day 12 – Create a visualization that can help describe the different aspects of ‘Quality’
  • Day 13 – Find, listen and share a podcast on ‘Quality’
  • Day 14 – Read about ‘Quality Characteristics’ and share a characteristic that matters to you
  • Day 15 – Ask five different teams within your organisation what is the most important quality characteristic for them
  • Day 16 – Pick a ‘Quality Characteristic’ and use it to guide an exploratory testing session
  • Day 17 – Pick an app that you use daily, what quality aspects of the app encourage you to use it?
  • Day 18 – Share a bug you have found in your system and the quality characteristic that is was potentially affecting
  • Day 19 – Read and share your thoughts on Principle 5 of Modern Testing
  • Day 20 – Look up and share a definition on Quality Engineering
  • Day 21 – Share a resource on how you might measure quality
  • Day 22 – Find out what metrics your internal stakeholders care about and why
  • Day 23 – Map out how ideas get to production and look for the biggest bottlenecks or problems
  • Day 24 – Share what quality metrics you track or what metrics you want to track
  • Day 25 – Research how an external company improves their ‘Quality’ – how can your team adopt these improvements?
  • Day 26 – Create a way to report to your stakeholders your team’s views on quality
  • Day 27 – What is the role of a quality coach?
  • Day 28 – Research the different between Functional Quality and Structural Quality
  • Day 29 – Contribute to a discussion on The Club about whether there is a difference between code quality and software quality
  • Day 30 – Share something you’ve learnt from the book you chose to read on Day 3.