Finding and fixing bugs after the fact doesn’t work in a world where experience engineering drives fundamental digital transformation, and the cost of poor-quality software is enormous.
Quality is an umbrella term. Depending on roles inside organizations, different minds have disparate associations with quality – analysis, testing, data, planning, improvement, management, customer’s voice, or even lawsuits, product recalls, or disasters.
Fundamentally though Quality is about exceeding customer expectations – every batch, every season, every product. After all, the actual quality value is measured in higher revenues from more significant customer satisfaction and higher operational efficiency and effectiveness from increased productivity and innovation.
How does the Quality variable inform today’s competitive landscape?
Especially when gaining new customers or increasing market share, companies must continually develop and improve products. So, then, in a marketplace with fewer barriers or boundaries, customers demand higher quality at competitive prices. This premise creates stiff challenges for product testing and quality assurance. How exactly?
Today’s faster release cycle times, cost pressures, and best-in-class user experiences don’t happen in the Quality Assurance (QA) regime, which ‘assures’ quality. Instead, Voice of Customer (VoC) needs to continually factor in the product design and waste identification and elimination that brings down product costs.
QA and QE.
Whereas QA is the overall process of ensuring manufacturers make things properly, Quality Engineering (QE) defines (or ‘engineers’) the system that does it. Quality engineers maintain, improve, and monitor the system.
What distinguishes QE methods and tools is the cross-functional approach involving multiple business and engineering disciplines (like Quality management system, Advanced product quality planning, Quality Function Deployment, failure modes and effects analysis, statistical process control, and root cause analysis).
Overall QE benefits in the 2020s
Saving money: Both – bug fixing and development times – are costly. Quality Engineers have a certain mastery in identifying issues inside a complex system. The outcome? Developers spend less time tracking down bugs. Additionally, delivering on quality before the build reaches production limits costly hotfixes.
Saving time: When the rubber hits the road, teams often sacrifice testing time to meet delivery deadlines. Quality Engineers save precious time by optimizing testing approaches. How? By automating time-consuming tests, identifying efficiency-enhancing tools, and building shared infrastructure across multiple projects.
Enhancing standards: As apps get complex by the day, their architecture needs testing integration between the various layers. When traditional testing doesn’t cut it, Quality Engineers combine their enhanced architecture understanding with a grey-box testing approach. The result is more thorough testing of the whole system.
Improved Planning: Quality Analysts are primarily code-gatekeepers. However, when QA’s identify issues that require re-architecting the application (time-consuming and costly), Quality Engineers facilitate planning discussions, bring insights to highlight limitations, and coordinate with developers to strategize the best ‘build-test’ approaches. Arresting early pitfalls helps in a faster go-to-market without compromising on quality.
Effective communication: Quality Engineers test systems like end-users and understand traceability in the underlying workflows. Doing this informs their ‘bridge’ conversations with technical and non-technical roles. Their valuable insights highlight gaps from both a user and system perspective and build trust across teams. The outcome? Highest product quality.
Quality Engineering in the age of Agile and DevOps.
As more Agile and DevOps philosophies proliferate across the software development lifecycle (SDLC), Quality Engineering (QE) governance platforms have grown in prominence.
More Quality Assurance, Less Control
In the new world of mobile and IoT, enterprises embrace shift-left or apply more QA efforts earlier in the development lifecycle. Potential problems are easier to catch and less costly to fix.
Test Early, Test Often
In Agile (and Scrum) environments, the idea is to ship products (or code faster) in more iterative loops. So, when the emphasis on debugging begins before development, the QE governance function is working with desired optimality.
Finally, QE Governance benefits the organization’s digital development initiatives.
The entire product team (developers, designers, managers, QE’s) is trained and tuned on the development process. This radically increases the quality standards and permeates a quality culture across digital transformation programs.
As processes take root, the nascent QE mindsets have to be guarded in ways that slip back to older methods are alerted and corrected. This step is accounted for in the QE governance mechanisms.
QE actively investigates the relationships between in-process metrics, project characteristics, and end-product quality. This is where QE governance measures metrics at the product (cost and quality), process (efficiency and effectiveness), and organizational levels (employee satisfaction and economics). Based on the learnings, organizations engineer quality improvements in both the process and the product.
QE makes the proposed benefits of Agile and DevOps more real. Continuously validating product attributes across SDLC, a holistic QE approach critically reduces delivery gaps and boosts production expectations.