May 2, 2008

Quality and Perception Management

Test Management
Most of you are old enough to remember the late 70’s and early 80’s. Some days I feel like everyone around me was born in the 80’s. The reason I bring up this era is not because of big haired rock bands or Van Halen (Rocks). It is to discuss quality. Many American companies were being criticized for their quality standards. This perception of reality hurt many of these companies and they lost huge market shares. The consumer’s perception was simple, “big companies do not care about quality”. What does this have to do with the quality of your software? As a product manager for a commercial product I am always concerned with our initial image. A product should have good manners. Similar to what I tell my sons; use your manners when you are over (insert friend’s) house. People download and review your product daily. Quality is not just about how few defects you prevent going out the door. It is also about establishing the right image for the product. I have seen products that work well, but the spit and polish is lacking. A product without polish will be hurt by first impression. You only get one shot at first impression. Ask the Big Three automakers about first impressions. They suffered through some horrific times; at least their customers buy a new car every 3-4 year. In the software industry, you almost never get the opportunity to win back a customer. How much does it cost you to fix “Perception.” My guess? It is a lot cheaper to fix the reality.