What is quality?

Take some 10 minutes and think about what that means for you.

What is quality in your own work? What should it be like in software? And how do you feel about quality in what you achieve?

The business standard answer would be something like „the software is free from side effects, defects, failures, malfunction“. And it works „as it should be“ (or better: as specified, which is not always what the user thought). It might use standards which have a certain quality impact (because they are standards everyone uses, that’s a baked in quality). Using standards is a way of getting a decent level of „I don’t have to test this stuff“ into software, because: standards.

But back to my initial question: What is quality for you?

Quality answers

Some end users might say „that software works“ or „that software does not fail“. That it is „secure“ or maybe it is „(child) safe“. Maybe that the user experience is superb and for sure – as an end user, I don’t want to be buggered with what’s under the hood! Even a developer is sometimes an end user and *might* think about what the guys used under the hood, but then again – the experience is, what counts for quality. Are there many glitches in a game, or does the page take too long to load – there are many qualifiers for quality. And they are as diverse as the user sitting in front of the device.

A developer would have another point of view over there. The dev would say something like „the code has a good quality“, it might be „easily maintainable“ or „good to understand, even though it is quite complex“. Maybe it has to do with „no side effects when adding new features“, being robust even when a harddrive fails or the payment provider is offline. Or the dev looks at the piece of software and measures it by „WTF per minute“ (quite a common measurement, trust me!).

Both described (user) sides are what they are: two sides of a n-sided medal. The quality assurance guys and gals might most likely be a breed of those two. A versatile multi-headed – I was just not to write „Medusa“ but maybe some dev’s look at us (QA) like that 😉 – worker with lots of knowledge about many IT places (sometimes even the dark, shabby, shadowy and shady corners).

So – what is your answer to quality? Did I picture you somewhere in the last lines? Or are you a completely different person?

I would like to take you on a ride through the rough plains of quality in software engineering. Not in the hard terms of „telling you what to do“ to make good software. I think most of you already know this! This should be a more human approach, which is fed from the numerous meetings and people I had the opportunity to get to know. This might be a bit QA-sided view on the whole matter. But I love to hear from you developers and all the other IT guys what you think about quality. Much has changed since the initial days of doing quality assurance. But maybe we can lift that curtain together and find a new and better view on it!

petra Verfasst von:

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