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  • Writer's pictureCraig Risi

Benefits of a quality-driven approach in software and why quality-driven leadership matters

Instead of delving into more discussions about testing tools, I decided to conclude the year by sharing something that I believe needs a change in many companies and is pertinent to a recent career transition I experienced. The focus revolves around the significance of integrating quality experts into key leadership positions within software engineering organizations to drive a quality-minded software engineering approach.

Despite the substantial growth in awareness regarding the importance of software quality and testing, many organizations still exhibit a bias towards appointing individuals with primarily development or architecture backgrounds to executive decision-making roles. This inclination tends to overshadow the role of quality experts in leadership positions and subsequently leads to many companies continuing to forego proper quality best practices in their software engineering teams.

While there's no universally perfect approach, I firmly believe that companies should seriously contemplate affording quality engineering a pivotal role within the organizational framework and thereby driving a proper change in attitude and approach towards software quality that will see lasting change.

So today I wanted to discuss why this is so important and share the benefits of what a quality-centric engineering approach can achieve for organizations and how that can lead to greater long-term success for them as opposed to a non-quality-centric strategy.

It’s worth noting though that this does not mean that a person driving an organisation’s strategy needs to have a background in quality engineering directly. However, they should have a history of putting quality first in their previous positions with a strong understanding of the needs of testing and the importance it plays in the role of software delivery. This person should not be someone who potentially sees it as a cost-cutting area or an area to blame when software is of poor quality – without understanding the impact code quality and software design play in the success of the testing and quality efforts. An unfortunate trait I’ve seen in a lot of organizations.

Focusing on quality-driven design early

Integrating testing and quality principles early in the development cycle is paramount for building robust and successful software applications. By incorporating these considerations from the outset, teams can yield several key benefits.

Firstly, early adoption of testing practices helps in identifying and rectifying defects at their nascent stages, minimizing the risk of these issues escalating throughout the development process. This proactive approach not only saves time and resources but also contributes to a smoother and more efficient development lifecycle.

Additionally, early testing fosters a culture of quality within the team. It instills a mindset of continuous improvement and accountability, encouraging developers to produce code that not only meets functional requirements but also adheres to stringent quality standards. This mindset shift contributes to the overall quality of the final product.

Considering testing and quality principles early also aids in effective risk management. By addressing potential issues at the beginning of the development cycle, teams can mitigate the likelihood of project delays, unexpected costs, and customer dissatisfaction. This, in turn, enhances the predictability and reliability of the software delivery process.

Moreover, early testing supports faster feedback loops. Developers can receive prompt insights into the performance and reliability of their code, enabling them to make timely adjustments. This iterative feedback loop accelerates the development process, leading to quicker releases and a more responsive development team.

All of these are commonly known elements of success in software engineering teams, but many teams I’ve interacted with have struggled at this level largely because the leadership is driving the wrong strategies to achieve this and not following the appropriate quality-driven design approach.

Why a Quality-Driven strategy will improve your software teams?

If you’re still not convinced of the importance of this, below are the benefits that you a company will see if they correctly place a quality-minded person in the right position of seniority and follow a quality-driven strategy.

A Culture of Ownership

  • This might not be the most immediate point worth mentioning, but often one of the first things to change when we push quality and driven testing mindsets through teams is the change in responsibility and ownership that teams start to take on about software quality. It reduces the notion of developer versus tester and sees greater collaboration from all parties to achieve high-quality software.

Early Defect Detection and Prevention:

  • Identify defects and potential issues early in the development process. Issues found in production or late in the development cycle are more costly than early in the development cycle. While this might be reduced somewhat if teams are correctly following a DevOps process and deploying regularly – you might not see the full benefit if you don’t know what to consider from a testing perspective and still get stuck in missing things regularly.

  • Ensuring that robust testing and quality assurance practices are integrated into the development life cycle, preventing defects from reaching later stages. Much like the above, you need to implement the correct processes that prevent defects from happening rather than finding them – and enforcing quality-driven approaches from the top greatly helps with this.

Cost Reduction:

  • A focus on quality can result in cost savings by preventing the proliferation of defects in production and reducing the need for extensive post-release support.

  • This is not just about the actual physical costs of engineering efforts to support and fix production issues but also includes the reputational cost that comes with production issues that customers face.

Improved Delivery

  • Placing more emphasis on testing does not slow down software-delivery, but rather speeds it up. Especially when looking beyond your initial sprint work and focusing on the long-term benefits gained across the entire lifespan of an application.

  • A high proliferation of defects at any stage of development or release will naturally slow down a development team. By reducing defects early in the development process, a team can focus more on delivering new features rather than fixing existing ones.

  • A proper test-driven design approach makes automation a lot easier, both at a unit and integration level, which also significantly reduces the regression effort and allows the team to further focus on better exploratory testing and delivering new features.

Improved Customer Satisfaction:

  • High-quality software meets customer expectations and leads to increased satisfaction. This is rather obvious, but companies must realize this is best driven when quality is a central pillar of their engineering design and effort.

  • When we put the customer and testing needs up for consideration early and drive the right process and culture through the team, it allows teams to build, test, and maintain software that achieves customer satisfaction consistently.

Risk Mitigation:

  • Risks will always be a part of software delivery and navigating how to address them while keeping deadlines and budgets in check will always be a rare skill. Having people who tackle this from a quality mindset and not just a delivery mindset though tend to do this better and achieve better results in mitigating risk.

Process Improvement:

  • By adopting proper quality-first principles and continuous improvement initiatives within the software engineering organization you can optimize workflows, and enhance overall productivity as teams work with more clarity in what is required for delivery and have less interference from change control and defects.

Compliance and Standards:

  • Many industries have specific standards and compliance requirements that software must meet. This shouldn't be an afterthought, but these standards need to be implemented as part of the test conditions of a project. A quality-driven strategy would consider this and ensure teams work towards this common goal early, reducing any time later required for rework to meet these extensive audit procedures. This further reduces the risk of legal and regulatory issues.

In summary, by prioritizing quality, organizations can reduce costs, enhance customer satisfaction, and mitigate risks, ultimately leading to more successful and sustainable software products. All of these are best achieved with the right strategy snd leadership in place that can support this change.

Testing and quality are not something that can be left aside any further in building software and if you as an organization are struggling to get this right it’s time you possibly look at the structure of your senior leadership in the software delivery space and whether you have the right number of quality-minded people driving your strategy and delivery efforts.

Placing the right people in these roles drives the right emphasis through the organization and allows companies to capitalize on all the benefits explained above that will transform their software teams into highly effective ones. Change is not exclusively driven from the top and it can come from the teams making a difference in the way they work – but without the right support to direct teams in the right direction, change may not be fast or effective enough.

There is a common saying that culture eats strategy for breakfast and so even if a company has the right principles in their strategy towards quality, but doesn’t have leadership embodying it, it’s likely real change won’t take place.

1 commentaire

24 janv.

Collibet India is the company follows best practices (Also they focus on collaboration and communication ensures the project delivery on time and within budget, building long-term relationships with people they work with)

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