Quality Engineering requires leaders at all levels.
Clean code requires solid convictions to defend the software craftsmanship principles. A strong roadmap and user-stories are the results of strong product managers. And in the end, these leaders form the impulsing force of Quality Engineering.
Quality Engineering is the paradigm constraining the software lifecycle to continuous value delivery. It requires a continuous animation of the actors towards value creation giving sense over strict methods, organizational silos, and technological matters.
The management of Quality Engineering is responsible for making it happen, whatever their position. Leaders of Quality Engineering are not always relying on a specific status to deliver results. They adapt to their ecosystem.
We cover in previous articles how Atlassian, Manomano and OpenClassrooms evolved to Quality Engineering. This article shares the Quality Engineering management practices focusing on driving an organizational transition.
In this page, each practice has a primary pointer without backlinks or ads. You can complement the practice by consulting openly accessible content. The objective is to complement them later on.
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This guide is a work-in-progress to be adapted based on the feedback and likely to evolve within the Quality Engineering Framework, MAMOS: Methods, Architecture, Management, Organization, Skills.
Each practice has been ranked among Quality, Speed and Complexity by maximum score representing the implementation priority. This article is only an excerpt, you can access full prioritization of these practices available here.
The Management elements to drive Quality Engineering
Ultimately, the CEO is responsible for Quality Engineering.
But in any case, a set of motivated actors are necessary to drive the transformation: their guiding coalition. This pivotal structure guides organizational changes using their power of people development, change management, and influence.
Leaders of Quality Engineering become ones by their actions.
Leaders are the ones bringing life to a Quality Engineering organization. This role can be held by different positions depending on the context: the traditional QA Manager, as well as a product manager, engineering leader, CTO.
What leaders do to make Quality Engineering happen is more important.
The leaders of Quality Engineering acts on three areas
The management is responsible for three main phases of change management: initiate the change, set the vision and change the culture. You can use these practices to drive a Quality Engineering transition starting by the first one of impulsion.
Initiating the change starts by having a clear understanding of the existing situation and problems. Then, it requires leadership, argumentation and influence capabilities to rally actors towards a shared vision and mission for a better future.
One thing is selling, another is doing. The success of a transformation lies in its execution, and Quality Engineering is no exception. The management has therefore to clarify the concrete implications and evolutions while evolving the organization.
Once the guiding coalition is able to deliver tangible results, the next challenge is to diffuse the changes to the rest of the organization. Leaders have to evolve the culture to successfully drive Quality Engineering transformation with minimal coordination.
The recommended Quality Engineering implementation curve per impact for Management.
Initiate the change
The pressure we can feel in our body will make us change today. You need to demonstrate a true sense of urgency to your stakeholders to trigger an organizational move. This will also foster collaboration among the different actors.
Use data, emotions, and competition to initiate the change. You can look internally for facts or even perform internal surveys. You can explore the customer complaints to get catchy verbatims. The key is to combine the ones that will push to action.
Driving change is a timed race. There is not enough time to involve everyone at the same pace, that would also be inefficient. You can use stakeholders management to prioritize your effort of change management, influence and involvement.
Engage with the most useful stakeholders using your matrix and knowledge of the organizations. Most powerful actors are not necessary with big titles; a knowledgeable person with a good network can slow down your initiative if not enough considered.
You need relays to diffuse Quality Engineering within the organization. The people rallied to your initiative will form your guiding coalition. These actors unlock budgets, support cross-department changes, and have a given authority.
Rally small yet impactful influencers, leaders, and experts in the organization to drive early wins and change. Not doing that increases the likelihood of staying in the status quo with limited results at the beginning, and failure in the mid-term.
Set the vision
A common goal directs internal forces in the same direction. By giving a shared purpose, this also encourages the creation of a proactive ecosystem where the actors have autonomy to reach framed objectives.
You need to define collaboratively the common mission across organizational silos directed to quality (e.g. Atlassian “Quality at Speed”, OpenClassrooms “Accelerate the achievement of shippable quality that makes education accessible”).
Quality is subjective by nature. You need to set a common ground that will support transversal interactions of the actors. They need to feel the people they collaborate with have a similar background, fostering more valuable interactions.
You can use a quality map expliciting the attributes of quality, their definition, and weights within your organizational context. Similarly, use collaborative workshops leveraging the stakeholders’ map to perform that exercise.
A common mission, vision and definition of Quality clarify what you want to achieve as a group. But you need the right actors that will fit your organization and act towards your goals. The values enable to clarify the behaviors valorized and expected.
The values are usually coming from corporate. Decline values as quality principles to clarify the rules of the game in which the actors can act for Quality Engineering (e.g. Atlassian defined “Quality, Speed, Independance, Experimentation”).
Change the culture
A culture enables the large coordination of actors with minimal coordination. You need to grow your Quality Engineering culture to embody the practices within the organization. But first, you need to kill the old myths that would slow you down.
Managers must evolve the team to dissociate the bidirectional association of testing with quality. Each term requires a shared clarification and meaning. You can also specify the contribution to each team in terms of quality and testing deliverables.
People are not silly. They are much more open to change if you explain why, and likely to do it clarifying how. You have to do a real communication plan of your new methods of Quality Engineering, especially “why and how to do less testing”.
Through communication, make clear that building the software right with short feedback loop is the most important (e.g. Uncle Bob “QA should find nothing”, Atlassian how to do less testing).
A system accumulates complexity and will tend to go back to its initial state without counter-forces. The management of Quality Engineering is the force to sustain the practices over-time within the organizational culture and habits.
The management is accountable for the implementation and use of the various Quality Engineering methodologies described above. They have to lead their implementation, directly and indirectly, with more delegation as they evolve in maturity.
These practices will help drive the organizational change focusing on the actors of Quality Engineering. The actions are mainly directed at change management practices, essential to initiate, grow and sustain an organizational culture evolution.
This content was limited to the pillar of Management. The remaining practices of Methods, Architecture, Organization & Skills are available in separate contents. The objective is to enrich it within the community and improve it over-time.
You can access the full Quality Engineering Framework containing the rank of the practices across Quality, Speed and Effort. It also contains an option to customize the priority of certain practices and already leave you with an action plan.
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The Quality Engineering Definition, Manifesto and Framework are available through a Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).