Quality is alive

I’ve talked to a lot of unhappy testers – smart, talented testers who always feel like they are working at odds with their teams in order to advocate quality. In this kind of situation, it’s easy to believe that quality is dead. In my last post, I speculated that perhaps it just isn’t cost-effective anymore for companies to have a primary quality focus. In which case, as an advocate for quality, how could a tester ever have real job satisfaction?

Software isn’t just a “see who can make the most money” game. There are people out there who believe in making good products.

The quality of the product is limited by the quality goal of the company. Testers, developers, designers – we all help the company achieve that goal. If the goal doesn’t align with our own personal ideas of quality, then we will not have much job satisfaction.

Whether you like software to look beautiful, or produce huge profits, or be driven by beautiful code, or make your customers love you, you want to build something that makes you proud.

Jerry Weinberg famously said that quality is value to someone at some time. What is quality to you, at this time? Are you working at a place that has the same quality definition as you? If not, then you have two choices – adjust your personal definition of quality to match the company’s, or find a company that has the same values as you do.

Every successful company is making quality software, by some person’s definition of quality. If we want to have real satisfaction in what we help create, we need to find or create a company with quality values that align with our own, and then work out how we can best serve to help achieve that goal.

5 thoughts on “Quality is alive

  1. Phil Kirkham

    I’ve worked at places who did ship crap but got away with it because their competitors shipped even worse crap. Adjusting my personal definition wasn’t going to work, wading through 1600 defects was not giving me any job satisfaction.

    So I tried the second option and have managed to find a company who believe in making great products and who’s quality definition seems to match mine. It means moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan and getting frozen in the winters but working at a place with those values is going to provide great quality of job satisfaction for me.

  2. Andrew

    Grand Rapids… that reminds me of a certain parking calculator :|

  3. Ranjit

    Hmm. Thought provoking. Is it that simple (or drastic) as “you have two choices – adjust your personal definition of quality to match the company’s, or find a company that has the same values as you do.”? I think not. Like you quote Jerry – quality is value to someone at some time, the definitions change over a period of time – be it because of the project requirements, maturity, awareness, mentality, attitude of all the parties involved.

    I’m a big advocate of the tester (or test team) being involved as a facilitator in defining, maintaining and even evolving an organisation’s definition of quality. Isnt that what a tester(or team) *should* be doing? helping achieve company’s goal to achieve quality? And due to the very nature of how things evolve, quality evolves and a testers perspective/evaluation too has to adopt accordingly.

    I also think recognition of the efforts put in by anyone that adds value to the overall process is the biggest motivator in achieving job satisfaction. Its only when there is no recognition that people tend to find other avenues – myself included.

  4. Haumovie

    Interesting perspectives, but aren’t the subjects getting muddled a bit here?
    Quality is surely subjective, as mentioned – so in quality of work to generate job satisfaction for the tester – it’s about producing something you can be proud of. From an employer perspective, that might not harmonize with what neither the company nor the customer feels qualifies as quality and thus it goes both ways. If I (as a tester) am doing the best I can with what I’ve got, then I have reason to be proud of myself. If the company has different parameters entirely of what is best, then that won’t stop me from working the best I can with what I have.
    In other words: If I have the job of getting fit, and my Personal Trainer says I need to run 100m to get fit – there’s no point in running 200m just because I think that it gets me fit better.
    …hmm, your perspectives are thought provoking…
    On the other hand – didn’t you get employed because you, with your skills/personality/experience/looks can provide something of value to the company? Then make that count. If you got hired to move X from A to B and that doesn’t rock your boat, then find something else to do.

    My definition of quality in a product is providing something which defines what you want, better than you could ask for.
    For work satisfaction, it’s learning something new every day. It leaves no-one else to blame for a bad day.:)

  5. Lisa Davidson

    Very nice post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Quality is one of the most crucial aspects that a customer looks for. Any product or application must go through Quality Assurance and Testing to ensure that quality reaches the target audience. Most software testing companies hire QA Testing experts who understands quality and put themselves in customers shoes. In my view when it comes to software testing one must look for an independent software testing company.

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