Quality Assurance is probably the most common definition for the QA acronym. The pressure of the ecosystem towards Quality at Speed requires additional meanings for QA.
Acronyms are useful to build a shared meaning of a particular concept. At the same time they shorten exchanges, they also tend to close their understanding to a particular domain. QA can be tied to specific roles or activities, such as Quality Analyst or Quality Assessment, but the most valuable acronyms have to bring an increasing value regarding the existing practices.
The evolving role of Quality Assurance is identified as a key trend part of the World Quality Report. It requires the evolution of various facets to expand the value of quality across the organizations. The increasing contribution of Quality to the business and user experience maintains its trends, while enabling Quality within companies becomes a requirement to deliver Quality At Speed.
This article aims to share the most valuable QA acronyms identified within the ecosystem that we also share with the community on regular interactions. Let’s start with the first one focusing on our behavior and team interactions.
QA for Question Asker
Why? For what? What is the customer value? What are the impacts on other domains? How to measure value creation? These are examples of powerful questions made when acting as a Question Asker.
This term was coined within the quality ecosystem to materialize the value of asking the right questions right. Questioning is an art of multiple benefits, such as improving the initial design, impacts analysis, or inclusion of stakeholders. The habit of questioning should become an organizational capability and part of the culture and must start somewhere. The best way is to start by acting that way ourselves. Here’s an example applied to Quality Engineering.
Questioning requires a set of complementary competencies such as humility to challenge our assumptions, critical thinking to identify the right questions, emotional intelligence to ask the questions right. We must combine intuition and data to identify the most valuable questions in our particular context. This article shares how this duality is used within a problem-solving methodology.
Our intuition guides us to sense missing information, match patterns with previous experience, or even our interlocutors’ hesitations. Data supports a systematic analysis of data points leveraging visualization to support intuitive or logical reasoning. Data are also powerful in backing up specific questions, reinforcing their authority and legitimacy.
“Question Authority” or “Question & Answers” are alternatives that do not transmit the same way as the change of role implied by the Quality Asker. Acting that way will make us become a natural Quality Advocate.
QA for Quality Advocacy
An advocate is a person who pleads for another’s cause or speaks or writes in support of something. An advocate is more powerful than being an ambassador, mainly limited to a representative role.
Becoming a Quality Advocate does not happen overnight. We must act transversally, regularly, and with impacts. Advocacy builds up the foundational work of Quality Assurance applied to every activity of the software lifecycle. Our behavior with the various actors will materialize the advocacy, placing the overall quality before our limited own or team interests. Communication is a critical area to address for advocacy. See here 10 powerful ways identified with the community to communicate on software quality.
Do you analyze customer complaints to prioritize a valuable backlog? Are you acting to improve the quality of the requirements? Do you defend limiting the work in progress to favor more regular increments? These are examples of how a Quality Advocate can act within an organization. It requires seeing the big picture while having the courage to defend a quality not limited to quality assurance. This is what Farah Chabchoub shared in this interview.
Our goal is to create a quality embedded in the entire value chain, supported by a standard set of practices. This is Quality Assistance.
QA for Quality Assistance
A traditional vision of Quality Assurance is Quality Control, a separate department acting at the end of the chain. This model is far from being sufficient to make quality an integral part of the system.
Quality Assistance materializes the supporting activities enabling the various teams in their quality processes. Theoretically, Quality Assistance aims to disappear in the end. In reality, the rate of changes and novelty requires a continuous adaptation of this support. The implementation of this concept is a sign of maturity of the organization. It recognizes the need for a built-in quality in the first place while maintaining an overall coherence.
Concretely, Quality Assistance means that the first-line teams are responsible for the quality of their products. The excuse of waiting for the QA team for the tests is not acceptable in this model. The second line of support, the Quality Assistance, must act proactively while assisting the teams reactively. Proactively, they can provide reusable components for the test to simplify their quality experiences, such as reusable test automation, pipeline, or monitoring templates. Reactively, they can help a team growing in maturity in their questioning, structure, and specific choices. You can find how Manomano implemented this concept in this article, Quality Without Testing.
“At Manomano, the QA teams no longer do testing for the other teams; we are a quality assistance team.”Olivier Dennemont
The end goal is a Quality Ascent, a built-in quality across our overall software lifecycle, providing value to its users, able to change fast and with confidence.
QA for the Quality Ascent
The acronyms covered illustrate the need for Quality to be impactful across the whole organization, felt by the customers, and visible up to the shareholders and board of directors.
The objective of Quality is not to optimize the QA department or existing QA team. We must create a system integrating quality across every process, organization actors.
We must combine the various acronyms that complement themselves to structure a powerful quality. One must apply quality processes starting by its person, broadening its prism, continuously improving and adapting.
A better acronym of this Quality Ascent is Quality Engineering, the way to embed continuous quality in our entire system.
The Advocate Definition https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advocate
The ISTQB Glossary https://glossary.istqb.org/en/term/quality-2
Praxent, Software Requirements Gathering Techniques: A Formula For Success https://praxent.com/blog/software-requirements-gathering-formula-success
Spendsetter, 5 Steps to Building a Quality Advocate Network https://www.slideshare.net/Spendsetter/5-steps-to-building-a-quality-advocate-network
Sogeti, The World Quality Report 2020-21, https://www.sogeti.com/explore/reports/world-quality-report-2020/