Building High-Quality Software

[article]
Establishing a Culture of Quality
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and achieve quality-related goals. A coach can help programmers to collect appropriate statistics, to interpret those data to understand what they mean, and to identify opportunities to excel. Also, a coach can guide programmers in setting professional goals for themselves and adapting their work habits in order to achieve those goals.

QA's role
If QA cannot be responsible for adding quality to the product, then what is their role? QA's role is to be management's eyes and ears to understand how well software is being built and to know when corrective actions are needed.

By measuring and monitoring the software development process, QA helps to determine if the organization's standards and processes are being followed, and if they are effective in helping the engineering staff to do excellent work. When standards are being ignored or circumvented, QA identifies the reasons for the problem, and helps management to determine the steps that must be taken to bring the development activities in line with expectations.

By testing and auditing the products of software development, QA establishes the quality levels that are being achieved so management can determine if the organizational processes as suited to the needs of the projects. When defect levels are higher than expected, QA can help to identify the reasons for this, and the actions that will correct the problem.

Getting started
The road to excellent quality is a long one, but one that you can embark on today. Getting Management's, Developers, and QA's roles into proper alignment will lay the foundation for the cultural shifts that are necessary to achieve high quality.

When Management begins to regularly and consistently raise quality performance as an important issue, the others in the organization will begin to pay appropriate attention to it. When the programmers key off of management's new focus, they will begin to build quality into their products, lifting the entire organization's performance. Finally, as QA expands its role beyond merely testing and finding defects, they can help management to put the entire organization onto the road of continuous quality improvement.

About the author

Alan S. Koch's picture Alan S. Koch

Alan S. Koch, PMP, author of Agile Software Development: Evaluating the Methods for your Organization, speaks, writes, and consults on effective Project Management. Visit http://www.ASKProcess.com to learn how to improve the return on your software investment by focusing on the quality of both your software products and the processes you use to development them.

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