The first steps are rarely easy.
You are deeply convinced of the need for Quality Engineering to achieve continuous value delivery. But to be successful, your actions must involve the entire organization in this new dynamic.
Quality Engineering is the paradigm for constraining software chain activities to continuous value delivery. Achieving it requires acting on the pillars of MAMOS: Methods, Architecture, Management, Organization, Skills.
This article focuses on the first step of initiating your transformation process in your organization. For an overview of the transitions to Quality Engineering, you can consult this guide.
A Quality Engineering approach requires combining change management and structural quality improvements. This initial impetus focuses on creating a break with the existing organization by bringing and acting with a core team in 90 days.
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Inspire, initiate and mark change
The first transition consists in stimulating a dynamic of change within the organization. This requires an aspiring vision and mission to rally the actors to a common cause, broader than their individual interests.
You must focus the effort on the early adopters; these are the forces present in the system in order to optimize your effort. To identify them, change management methodologies must be used such as stakeholders analysis.
“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done. ”Ralph Lauren
This coalition will allow you to put in place the first structural changes in the organization and quality processes. These developments will mark the difference with the past, and the beginning of a renewal.
In this first transition, the guiding coalition aims to create early wins on a localized perimeter of action. This focus will make it possible to demonstrate the value of your approach and to increase the motivation of the actors, without dispersing yourself.
Clarifying your vision of Quality Engineering
Defining a vision is essential to rallying stakeholders to your cause. It allows to share an image carried towards an inspiring future channeling energies. To do this, you need to succeed in convincing your stakeholders to join in.
Your organization is made up of different ecosystems of power and interests. It is essential to analyze this context to identify the actionable dynamics for your approach: who to involve in priority and for what needs.
The methodology of stakeholder analysis allows you to categorize the actors into 4 categories. In this impulse stage, focus only on those to rally to your cause and those to include because of their power in the organization.
Your first priority is to find a sense of urgency common to these different actors. Pressure to act is necessary to bring together profiles from different horizons while inciting them to action. There are several possibilities for this.
Convincing your stakeholders requires combining several factors: your local organization and its ecosystem, customer contact and internal operations, the past and the future. Look for factual and hard-hitting indicators.
You will often find alarming trends and metrics when looking at the competition (NPS, Accelerate). By shining a light on a performance far beyond competition, projections often project a darker future.
Customer feedback obtained through surveys or customer service is also helpful. You will find symptoms there that will legitimize your sense of urgency. And in some cases, you may unfortunately be able to use recent crisis facts.
The clarification of the vision of Quality Engineering requires these methods:
- Stakeholder analysis
- Sense of urgency
- Warning signs, benchmark
Bring together the players with the greatest fit in your dynamic
Your stakeholder analysis has enabled you to better understand the organizational ecosystem. Now is the time to use your matrix to create the group dynamics that will carry out your first Quality Engineering actions.
This group leading the change is a guiding coalition. Think of a SWAT response team. It must remain of a reasonable size of 5 to 7 people to be fast enough in action and meshed in the organization.
Your choice of actors will have to balance different profiles in order to act and be legitimate. One or two recognized sponsors in the organization will be essential to structuring changes, complemented by influencers and high-performers.
Once your coalition has been identified, you must organize collaborative workshops to define a vision, mission and values shared. The alignment that you will create will be a real investment, avoiding a number of inefficiencies later on.
The mission is the raison d’être of the organization, animating all the actors on a daily basis. It helps promote the collaboration of actors with a common sense beyond daily difficulties and their own time horizons.
The common values complete the mission by clarifying the rules of interactions that will support the achievement of the vision defined in the medium term. The actors will have the same mountain to climb to resolve the identified emergency.
The creation of your first Quality Engineering unit therefore requires the use of:
- Stakeholders management
- Guiding coalition
- Vision, mission, values
Changing the visible codes of the organization to create a break
Continuous improvement does not allow sufficient force to be generated to change an entire ecosystem in place. To transform your organization, you must make structural changes that carry messages that mark a breakthrough.
The first visible activity is to clarify the constituent elements of your Quality Engineering approach. By relying on the mission, you can define the contours, interactions and roles of the new QE team.
Giving an identity to your team allows you to mark change and create through attraction through novelty. It is a phase necessary for the impulse of which it is necessary to make explicit the links with the rest of the organization to avoid fear and rejection.
You must first define a team name, for example “Quality Enablement” or “QE”. The different roles within the team must be defined as those of Quality Advisory, Test Expertise, Engineering Productivity.
Based on these roles, you can identify deliverables and responsibilities with the rest of the organization. For example, a Quality Advisor will have to perform peer reviews on the deliverables of DoD, test plan and release plan with the Software Engineer.
The change will materialize by changing the recurring processes of the organization. So formalize these new interactions in the software lifecycle processes. In addition to clarity, you will create a documentation asset for the future.
The core processes in the creation of software incorporating Quality must be prioritized. Bet on systematic peer reviews, QA kick-offs followed by QA demos to establish new rituals that should show tangible results.
The methodologies to be used to drive visible changes are:
- Name the QE team
- Identify the QE roles
- Clarify the QE roles
- QA kick-off
- QA Demo
- Peer review
Deliver the first early wins through the composition of skills
Achieving results in this first transition is fundamental. Without this, you run the risk of running out of steam by the demotivation and mistrust of the actors involved. You must therefore demonstrate value with your assets.
The achievement of these first results, or early wins¸ will depend on their balance. Too ambitious, they will not be achievable; too easy, they will not sufficiently demonstrate the value of the changes to be made. Use your previous work.
Your approach should allow the organization to feel more confident in the future and in the sense of urgency identified. Your actions must therefore make it possible to resolve the pain points identified and accelerate the creation of value on the opportunities.
Dismantling a cultural myth will give you the attention you need. For example, if you deliver code with good Test Driven Development allowing you to complete the fixes within the sprint timeframe, you will definitely score points.
To be successful, you will need to capitalize on your existing resources within the initial 30-90 days. So use the profiles with internal potential, and if you can and should, the service of expertise available to speed up your process.
The recommended methods for achieving initial results are:
- Detect talent
- Leverate external resources
- Early wins
Your first successful iteration prepares the organization
The actions to be carried out in this first transition will allow you to demonstrate the value of your vision on a defined scope. Your guiding coalition and its early wins will embody the dynamics of change to come.
It is important to force the execution of this first transition to 90 days to push for the achievement of visible and localized results. Your responsibility as a leader is to maintain this focus in order to achieve this impetus.
Your next priority is to broaden the impact of your approach in the organization. The good practices will allow you to capitalize such as the organizational mesh, the sponsors, the formalization of the vision and the processes.
This second transition will also require you to moderate your effort. Your objective will be to spread Quality Engineering until it creates a snowball effect that will accelerate change in the organization: the Tipping Point.
John Kotter, Leading Change
William Bridges, Susan Bridges, Managing Transitions (25th anniversary edition): Making the Most of Change