February 24, 2011

Are We Nearly There Yet?

Test Management
“We’re overrunning our schedule and we have to go live now. I know the software’s not perfect but it must be good enough...right?” If you are responsible for quality that sort of question can be a tough one to answer. Often, there can be a lot of pressure on you to agree that the software is done even if it’s not ready. On the other hand, if you are too cautious you might unnecessarily delay the release which will incur unnecessary costs, miss opportunities, and ultimately the quality team may end up being seen as a hindrance and source of delay. So how do you decide when it's the right time to ship? Well, I think there are a number of considerations that you need to take into account—is the coding done, is the business ready, and is the quality there? For the moment, let’s leave the developers to be responsible for determining when coding is complete and the business owners to determine if the time is right to introduce the application to increase revenue or reduce costs. Let’s focus on that last aspect—the assessment of application quality. Having zero defects and having all requirements being met would be nice, but every application will have at least minor defects. And, even in the unlikely event that all your requirements are delivered, some will be met better than others. The key is to devise and agree on a quantifiable definition of the quality required to be ‘ready to ship’ before you are asked that nasty question...is it ready? If you have to take responsibility for the quality of a released application you want to be really clear about the basis for your decision. Having a pre-agreed definition makes it possible to make sensible and defendable—decisions even when your feet are held to the fire. Want to learn more? I’m speaking on this topic at the TestExpo in London on March 23. My session, A Practical Approach to Determining Release Readiness, is in the morning. Hope to see you there!