Quality Assurance - Why do you need it?

What is the problem?

Quality Assurance is often viewed as an impediment to Project Completion or considered as an afterthought when there is a sudden realisation that someone should be completing an independent check of what has been done.  This check at a late stage often uncovers problems that could have been avoided much earlier in the process. 

Some of the reasons that have been advanced for avoiding any sort of Quality Assurance are:

  • It is boring
  • It is a configuration issue
  • It is technical and not business related
  • We are too small or too big to require Quality Assurance
  • No one has ever asked about our processes or whether we have tested so we have no need
  • It is not relevant (to us)
  • It is not my problem

We have encountered all of these statements multiple times while we have been in business.  None of them are valid reasons.

Ingredients for Quality Software

We want to start our discussion with the following ingredients to delivering quality software:

  • Customer Experience
  • Security/Compliance
  • Business Value (Availability on the Right Platform; Performance; Usability)

The customer must have a ‘delightful’ experience with our software or they will find another product that ‘delights’ them more. 

The software must keep my private data secure from being hacked and in compliance with all applicable laws.

Finally, the software must be available to the correct group or groups (otherwise the first two are not even considered).

Definitions

  • Quality Control - Software Testing (Static, Dynamic and throughout the SDLC)
  • Quality Assurance – Process Improvement throughout the SDLC
  • Quality Management – Bringing it all together; CoE, Knowledge Base; Best Practice Management

Why Quality Assurance

The cost of poor software quality is estimated to amount to 10% of a country’s GDP.  There are repeated calls for this to improve and for there to be a “Quality Revolution”.

The Risks of poor Software Quality include:

  • Your product is not working for the clients
  • Your product causes physical or environmental damage
  • Your product fails to perform as promised or advertised
  • You go out of business

The risks to Business Continuity include:

  • Production defects are being resolved while Business operations are disrupted and delayed
  • Client experiences are unsatisfactory
  • Business cannot expand client base as existing clients are unwilling to provide references
  • You go out of business

All of these can be addressed by using Quality Assurance processes at the correct points in the development cycle.  Quality Assurance is all about Risk Reduction and does pay for itself in reduced costs.

Six Easy Steps

There are six easy steps to embarking on your Quality Journey.

Step 1:  Sketch your process in a diagram.
Step 2: Ask people to vote for the 1st, 2nd , 3rd  choices for the pieces of the process causing the most trouble.  Use ranked voting.
Step 3:  Do some process analysis which is like the first step but a deeper dive into the step that is causing the most problems.
Step 4: Gather some statistics to form a baseline.
Step 5: Make some changes and gather statistics again.
Step 6: Compare the new results with the baseline from before the changes were made. 

REPEAT

Why NVP?

NVP has over 35 years of experience in Software Testing and Software Quality Assurance.  Our experience in Software testing provides a base for knowing what to do and what to avoid.  This experience plus our wide-ranging industry contacts inform our decisions on Quality Assurance best practices and processes.  We do not assume on using a fixed model or fitting into a set process.  We use the best solution for every situation.  Every situation is different and requires a different approach.  If the key consideration is Security then that is used to drive solutions and process improvement.  If the key consideration is speed (with limited security) then process improvement uses that criteria to decide where to improve processes.  Contact us for more information.  neil@nvp.ca or 416-809-5539.

Neil Price-Jones

neil@nvp.ca

416-809-5539

www.nvp.ca

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General Address

Project Management Association of Canada

2-140, boulevard Gréber
Gatineau, Québec
Canada, J8T 6H5

Phone: (819) 410-0427

PMAC Certification Body

Project Management Association of Canada

Box 58043, Rosslynn RPO
Oshawa, Ontario
Canada L1J 8L6

Fax: (416) 986-5777

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