What Is It You Want from Management?

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Summary:

It's easy to be frustrated by lack of executive management support for QA. Often it's difficult to get the backing we need to really operate effectively. But somewhere beyond cynicism lies a world of possibilities, and exploring them can help you articulate your needs. What would you ask for if you could?

I read, hear, and agree that executive management support for QA is absolutely necessary-and difficult, if not impossible, to get. This seems to be a mystery many of us deal with not just once, but over and over. Can you imagine anything different happening?

Excuses, Excuses!
If you're like me, you're very good at making up stories about why your executives don't support QA:

  • They're expected to care about quality, so they set up a QA group and think they've taken care of it.
  • They think that by chartering a QA group, they've done their part.
  • They're just going through the motions on quality.
  • They care about quality, but they care more about schedule and cost.
  • They're just too busy to support QA.
  • They DON'T really care about quality but they have to pretend they do.
  • They are so far removed from the real work, they don't even know what goes on at the worker level.
  • They just don't get it!
  • In the end, they are ignorant at best and dishonest at worst.

I've found my own stories don't make me feel any better. Often I fall into raw cynicism and outright blame.

But how much exploring have I done beyond the stories and cynicism? What is it I really want from those executives at the nosebleed level of the company?

"Backing."

Okay. So I want backing? But what is backing? The dictionary says that backing means "aid or support of any kind." But what kind do I want? The dictionary also says that backing means "that which forms the back of or is placed at or attached to the back of anything to support, strengthen or protect it." That sounds good. But what is the "anything" in my (your) case?

What, Specifically, Do I Want?
Perhaps if I could articulate more specifically what I mean when I ask for backing, I'd increase my chances of getting the kind I want. Do I want the executive to establish a quality policy, reward certain behaviors, give us more time or resources, participate in quality decisions, etc.? Any one of these things could constitute backing, yet each requires very different actions and support.

And by the way, who is backing whom? Why would an executive want to back QA? Or for that matter, why would an executive want to back me and my ideas about QA? And am I willing to back this executive's definition of and need for quality?

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About the author

Eileen Strider's picture Eileen Strider

Eileen Strider facilitates project reviews, project retrospectives, and IT organization assessments based on her experience as a developer, software project manager, IT manager, and Chief Information Officer. She occasionally fills in as a temporary CIO. With her partner, Wayne Strider, she leads the annual Strider & Cline Leaders' Forum. See www.striderandcline.com/ or send email to eileenstrider@worldnet.att.net.
 

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