Giving Testing its due

Someone on Linkedin asked how to emphasise Quality in 3 steps in an organisation where it is apparently given the short shrift or not given the importance it deserves, I had this to say.

First up define in your head or clear the fog around the word ‘quality’. The word means so many things that I hesitate to use it in a generic manner. Alternatives I suggest for use is better functionality, easy to use software, fewer defects in production, fewer customer escalations, better test coverage, improving tester skills & so on….

Now in your current workplace if ‘quality’ is not given its due, my suggested course of action is as below.

Why is this is the case? Being in this place maybe you already know. Is it around people, process, tools, interpersonal relationships…? You need to understand the concerns why “quality” is not given its due. There should be no reason why it is not given importance because most people understand the value it brings. So try clear the cobwebs / misunderstanding / misgivings around it by first understanding what the malaise is and then go about systematically prescribing (rather reiterating) the virtues of how good testing can deliver the cure (emphasising all functions working together). Do this in a most strident manner, from the heart and justifying it with whatever you can find on the web (pre & post scenarios, debacles & what have you). Paint a holistic picture of the future scenario you visualise keeping in mind the organisation & the customer and you will be listened to. Be one-sided (whining selfishly about testing’s concerns) and you will be side-stepped and probably you will sink deeper into the hole than you already were.

Once you have the buy-in set about repairing what is broken within your function & its interplay with others. Maybe the processes, people, their skills, their confidence and so on. Collaborate and speak with the best you can find within and outside your company for the solutions. Ask for & arrange training, dig the web, mentor the guys.. Oh there are umpteen things to do but what, why & how much depends on your scenario…. Keep a check on progress..using metrics, trends, coverage analysis etc. intelligently & wisely.. drive & do not be driven by the numbers… check with the people who matter asking them for their feedback on progress.. make corrections.. as you near the horizon.. re-plan for new goals. Change is the only constant.. Evolve. Progress. Keep your ears on the ground & feet on the earth.

Empower people in your team to eat, drink and breathe ‘quality’. Every person in testing must be an ambassador of your team’s beliefs, vision and good practices. For everyone to speak the same language there has to be consensus within the team & for consensus it is important for leadership to do its role properly else the tail will wag while the mouth barks which is not what is needed.

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