Your test campaign set up several months ago is completely ignored by the team.
You have to start from scratch, you have the impression of being a hamster in his wheel.
Beyond projects whose execution is questionable, integrating quality into an organization remains a real challenge.
How to succeed in sustaining project investments that are already difficult to obtain?
What problems are we trying to solve with quality?
The development, growth and survival of the organization must be the priority of quality.
Investment in software quality must support two types of issues:
- Capturing new opportunities
- Solving identified problems
Growth opportunities are mainly supported by the speed, responsiveness and adaptability of an organization.
To develop and maintain them, the quality of the end-to-end customer experience adapting to the customer’s needs is a real differentiating factor.
Security, compliance, scalability, performance and maintainability requirements are also necessary even if rarely mentioned.
Quality must therefore be at the service of these challenges, by integrating them as early as possible in the value chain for the creation of the company’s digital products.
Easier said than done.
What challenges do we encounter with quality projects?
Without making an exhaustive list, real difficulties arise regularly.
The positioning of quality in parallel with the factories is one of them.
Quality is often seen as a control activity in support of software development rather than to the company strategy.
This is what makes it difficult to justify by an ROI, how can a reduction in risk add value to the company?
This question remains biased from my point of view and deserves an article, the risk reduction can be positively valued as done by insurances.
Another difficulty lies in organizational models.
A silo quality in its conception, interactions and animation will tend to be closed on its own objectives, far from bringing a transverse value.
Another side effect will be the failure to integrate and sustain quality in the processes where it would bring value.
Some teams, like architects, have to get out of their ivory towers.
What are the limitations to quality projects and approaches ?
There is no shortage of stories of quality projects ending in a wet firecracker.
Some examples of related experiences:
- Test campaigns ignored on the first delivery with pressure from the PO
- Clear tests for QA but little understood by the product and development teams
- Unstable tests which end up disappearing from the teams’ radar
- Slow tests slowing down the team and which must be deleted at the request of the Tech Lead
- Test notifications with an automatic email rule to the recycle bin
- Maintenance of processes and tools that has not been planned
Beyond specific and contextual causes, the vision of quality as isolated projects to be carried out is a preponderant issue.
Projects tend to be seen as the implementation of deliverables defined by criteria of costs, deadlines, quality, requirements, etc.
They do little to integrate a contribution to a larger ecosystem and can easily underestimate the maintainability impacts, representing more than 80% of the Total Cost Of Ownership of deliverables.
So we just need to change our perspective for a quality approach?
It is a necessary first step to give meaning by considering a project as a stone to a building that one builds.
But we should have correctly defined what this construction will be used for.
Let’s explore enterprise capabilities.
What are enterprise capabilities?
More often used in architecture, capabilities deserve to focus on their definition and make the possible parallel with quality.
“Capabilities are an important business concept that describes the capabilities or skills of an organization, related to the organization’s strategic challenges and objectives.”
The capabilities are therefore cross-functional and business-oriented, we do not stop at a local view of the system.
“They are generally quite stable, and while the processes, functions and roles of the business change quite frequently, capabilities change less frequently. When they change, it’s usually in response to a strategic driver or a change.”
This prospect of foundations having a less frequent cycle of evolution than the tip of the iceberg seems like a good investment,
“They provide a useful starting point for mapping lower level elements such as business processes and functions, organization, applications and technology assets. They usually take a long time to deliver, often span multiple industries and involve multiple portfolios and projects.”
They do require real investments and transversality in the organization, few shortcuts are possible.
This is also what makes them difficult to imitate, for the benefit of turning into a real competitive advantage.
Why using capabilities for enterprise quality?
Using capabilities deals with the identified issues of quality in the company, projects and procedures.
Their alignment with strategic objectives helps to align and increase the quality value proposition with stakeholders.
The visualization of the strategic skills to be developed makes it possible to identify the improved transversal processes, also facilitating the construction of an ROI by a cost / benefit analysis.
Its long-term perspective, beyond business strategies that can evolve more quickly, makes its investment more sustainable and long-lasting.
This time horizon is what makes it possible to give meaning and direction to the quality initiatives and projects carried out, like the OKRs.
The development of strategically selected skills is also what will make it easier for the company to react and adapt.
The transversality of setting up a capability requires thinking globally about the company’s system, in order to structurally improve its performance.
This is what makes it possible to avoid falling into local optimizations often carried out in organizational silos.
A real competitive advantage will also be the fruit of the development of these capabilities, difficult to copy by other actors.
What to do with enterprise-grade capabilities?
The capabilities should enable the achievement of strategic objectives by creating sustainable organizational skills.Antoine Craske
Going back to our strategic issues, we want to succeed in:
- Delivering software supporting the challenges of the organization
- Carrying out projects contributing to achieving strategic objectives
We may therefore require the following skills to achieve this:
- Define and communicate the objectives of the organization
- Align the most relevant priorities and functionalities
- Identify functional and non-functional requirements
- Implement, test and deliver our software more quickly
- Control the quality of the user experience regularly updated
- Measure the suitability of the product to customer needs
- Identify opportunities for growth and improvement
- Improve value addition as automatically as possible
- Continuously learn and improve our processes
- Incorporate these skills into the processes in the long term
Are we still talking about software quality or a job description for our company?
Difficult to choose, the quality shows here its holistic aspect which needs to be integrated transversally in the organization.
The identification of capabilities is a prerequisite to architect its target and organizational trajectory allowing the development of these skills.
Integrate capabilities in your quality projects
The provocative title could make us understand to stop doing quality projects.
We must indeed stop doing isolated QA projects, without a clear contribution to the challenges of the company, without return on investment for the organization.
Projects must contribute to the development of your capabilities strategically chosen in your context.
This perspective of transversal and strategic skills is also what can lead you to adapt the projects you want to carry out.
In any case, successfully formalizing the alignment of your capabilities with your business strategy is necessary to convince your stakeholders.
Even if it means choosing, invest your time to defend the development of long-term skills more than an isolated short-term project.
So keep the following sentence in mind.
We must rethink our approach to Quality. Stop Projects, Build Capabilities.Antoine Craske