What is quality? 
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tl:dr: Lenses of quality is a way to think about what quality means to software development teams.
A while back someone on twitter asked what does quality mean to you. To which I responded:

Which not realising at the time but fitted in nicely with Gerald Weinberg’s description of what is quality:
   Quality is value to someone

For most teams that someone could be their Products Owners (PO), the organisation they work for, the team they work with and their end users. All these groups of people could have very different views on what value means to them and even contradicting views in some cases.

For your organisation quality could be whatever helps them reach their targets for that quarter or year.

For your Product Managers (PM) or Owners their measure of a quality product could be a system or feature released on time.

For your team it could be a system that they can build, deploy, maintain and add to easily.

For your end users, well it could be something as simple sounding as it just works.

Also it’s not that the testers or developers don’t care about shipping early (what the PM wants), it’s more that they might care about maintainability or it does what we said it would do more than shipping early.

All of this could be just the tip of the iceberg and there could be many other people and views on what quality means to them.

As testers we need to help development teams understand that quality is measured by people in different ways.

Lenses of Quality

One of the ways I’ve started to help teams understand this is via the idea of lenses of quality.

Each of these groups of people view quality with a different lens therefore see the same system differently to one another. We as testers should help our teams to see quality through these different lenses by helping them identify these groups and what their measures of quality are.

This would help teams to start thinking about who their stakeholders are and how they are likely to perceive the systems that they build.

Would it possible to line up all the different lenses and be able to focus on one common quality metric?

If so would this be more like a microscope pulling into focus the hidden details or more like a telescope and allow you to see far into the distance?

Got an opinion then say so in the comments.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] As the tester is in short supply and being one of the best feedback mechanism in your development process (apart from real end users of course) you are only going to be passing them the tickets that is most worthy of their time not any old ticket that could have easily been verified by some automated test at the code or perhaps UI level. This starts to encourage your team to not use your test team as a safety net of checking developers work but more informing on the quality of it. But don’t forget quality means different things to different people. […]

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