September 2011 QASIG Meeting

Sabotaging Quality

Presented by: Joy Shafer, Consulting Test Lead, Quardev, Inc.

From the very beginning of the project there have been discussions about quality. The team has unanimously agreed it’s important-a top priority. Everyone wants to deliver a high-quality product of which they can be proud. Six months after the project kick-off, you find yourself neck-deep in bugs and fifty-percent behind schedule. The project team decides to defer half of the bugs to a future release. What happened to making quality a priority?

One of your partners is discontinuing support for a product version on which your online service is dependent. You have known this was coming for years; in fact, you are actually four releases behind your partner’s current version. For some reason an update project has been put off repeatedly, until now-the last possible moment. Now the team is scrambling to get the needed changes done before your service is brought down by the drop in support. You are implementing the minimum number of features required to support the newer version. In fact, you’re not even moving to the most current version-it was deemed too difficult and time-consuming to tackle at this point. You are still going to be a release behind. Are you ever going to catch up? Is minimal implementation always going to be the norm? Where is your focus on quality?

Do these scenarios sound familiar? Why is it sometimes so difficult to efficiently deliver a high-quality product? What circumstances sabotage our best intentions for quality? And, more importantly, how can we deliver quality products in spite of these saboteurs?

One of the most common and insidious culprits is the habit of sacrificing long-term goals for short-term goals. This can lead to myriad, long standing issues on a project. It is also one of the most difficult problems to eradicate. Other saboteurs can take the form of competing priorities, resource deprivation, dysfunctional team dynamics, and misplaced reward systems.

Joy will show you how to recognize these saboteurs and assess the damage they are causing. She will discuss practical strategies for eliminating these troublesome quality-squashers or at least mitigating their affects.

Joy Shafer is currently a Consulting Test Lead at Quardev Laboratories on assignment at Washington Dental Services. She has been a software test professional for almost twenty years and has managed testing and testers at diverse companies, including Microsoft, NetManage and STLabs. She has also consulted and provided training in the area of software testing methodology for many years. Joy is an active participant in community QA groups. She holds an MBA in International Business from Stern Graduate School of Business (NYU). For fun she participates in King County Search and Rescue efforts and writes Fantasy/Sci-fi.

Meeting Slide Deck: Sabotaging Quality Slide Deck

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