People often question the value of quality assurance. It’s too frequently seen as a nuisance practice that has to be done at the end of a development cycle.
Even in some agile organisations, where assurance is integrated with development, product managers still question why the extra spend - especially if the whole development team are responsible for quality, and they're writing good code.
As a quality analyst myself, I’m always thinking of the value I can bring to an organisation, but it’s tough to summarise this when put on the spot (not to mention frustrating!). For this reason, I’ve jotted down 5 points that can help you quickly demonstrate the value of quality assurance to a product manager:
- Quality assurance will help you make informed decisions on delivery dates and scope.
A large part of assurance is about gathering information, eg which tests pass, whether there are system defects, and how the system performs. This information allows you to make decisions about when and what parts of your system are ready for release.
- Quality assurance ensures you have the right budget to complete delivery.
Knowing your current state and the complexity of your system will let you calculate remaining costs to a greater level of confidence.
- Quality assurance will give your team confidence that all software delivery requirements have been fulfilled.
Everyone is responsible for quality, but your quality analyst will have a view across the whole system, and will be actively tracking your progress against quality goals and requirements. It’s their sole role to ensure all functional and cross-functional requirements are met.
- Quality assurance will provide you with a measure of independence.
Reducing bias and testing systems in unexpected and unpredictable ways are important factors in achieving a good level of quality. To do this, it’s best to avoid having developers test their own work. You need independent people doing your testing, which is possible without dedicated staff, but having dedicated quality analysts will make it easier.
- Quality assurance ensures your service meets and maintains standards that satisfy all users and stakeholders.
Part of the job of a quality analyst is to define acceptance criteria, and then perform continuous testing to ensure these criteria are met and remain as the product evolves. These acceptance criteria are defined with all users and stakeholders of the system in mind to ensure they’re represented at all times.
In short, quality assurance won’t make things more difficult or add much expense, but it will help to deliver the product on time, to budget and to the right level of quality.
How do you explain your value as a quality analyst? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
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