Effective software QA through a combination of Thinking and Hustling
A software product company can create world-class quality products by designing effective quality processes and taking appropriate and timely action to implement the same.
Quadrant 1 → A World-Class Product
Quadrant 2 → Poor Quality Product due to lack of systematic QA
Quadrant 3 → A Product that does not reach the intended customers
Quadrant 4 → Poor Quality Product due to lack of QA actions
A Company should aspire to reach Quadrant 1 & be World Class Product creator.
This article is based on my extensive, broad, and 18-year expertise in the field of software engineering.
Software Product Companies want to deliver fast
In the last few years, we are seeing thousands of SaaS or software products being built. It is common to hear how these companies believe in executing fast if not at break-neck speed so that these companies can:
Quickly bring out the best solution to solve their target customer problems
Continuously add or upgrade existing features
Upgrade user flows
Keep on adding more value to the end customer
A low percentage of companies succeed
Up to 10% of these SaaS companies do well. The rest are not achieving the desired success with regard to NET profitability, customer acquisitions etc. This is in spite of trying to solve problems with good technology, skill sets, the potential to attract great numbers of customers etc.
There can be a variety of reasons for companies not doing well, like:
Poor Product Positioning or poor Sales & Marketing
Lack of Funding
No Customer Focus
Poor Product Quality
Well, we can keep adding to the above list however I would like to focus on the area of my expertise i.e Product Quality with me having worked, associated, and reviewed hundreds of software products or applications over the last 18 years.
What are the Next Steps?
I firmly believe there comes a time when a product or application needs to have an end-to-end comprehensive QA system/ processes/ policies/ culture (any term one would want to give it) in place. The earlier you have it the better it is.
How Product Quality can go wrong in a Growing early stage companies
When a product is in its early stage, the product features are low in number and the product complexity is low. This allows companies to release product upgrades with relative ease.
As one keeps adding new customers/users, and/ or new features, product complexity increases. Unless you have good systems in place, you are not in a position to make high-quality releases with the same ease or confidence as before!
This is an important juncture in a software product company’s journey as it is now inadvertently moving along the Hustle Axis → i.e as a company you are always hustling through a hoard of activities such as:
Design, and implement new features & trying hard to get them to the market in a super quick time
Most probably you are delivering half-baked features or features with issues
With each passing release, the number of issues in production is on the rising trend
Your team is busy grappling with an increased number of critical or priority issues.
In an effort to get features quickly to the market, you are now even forced to ignore major product issues. In fact, companies struggle to such a degree that some of the major issues are categorized as not so important and their fixes are postponed to later dates (due to forced circumstances)
All the above obviously results in the need to handle a growing volume of customer support tickets
Leaders fail to connect with their employees/contributors (who are one the pillars of successful companies)
Leaders are always feeling rushed in their activities and not able to devote time for their product improvements/enhancements
Alas, this becomes a never-ending vicious & energy-sapping cycle
Approach to Product Quality
Pure Hustle mode is great during the initial days but you need to evolve as an organization as the company and the product grows and evolves. You should certainly change the way you function!
As a company, it is important to shift towards a more structured and organized approach once the company at least crosses the product’s MVP or the early stage.
From a product QA perspective, one should start thinking about consistent product quality. You should start designing and building QA systems and processes across the Software Development Life Cycle. (Here we are now talking about the Thinkers modes along the Y-Axis)
These QA systems should always be customized such that they are unique and conform to your product’s value proposition and user experiences. So as @sahil Bloom says, “You need to be asking great questions, this is how you uncover the truth.”
It certainly helps if you have an expert with experience in successfully building such systems.
The thing is → As an organization to achieve consistently high quality, you need to have a robust, effective QA system that complements your Hustle mode, such as:
Design and build an End to End QA system that spans the Software Development Life Cycle
Start small by implementing your new system on a small task
Repeat the same for a group of medium-level tasks
As you execute the system for multiple tasks build a Continuous improvement Engine that would Review → Analyze → Measure → Identify Actionable items → Take action → Rinse & Repeat
You might feel that as an organization you have slowed down when you are designing and implementing the new system for the first few iterations. However, the time invested now is worth in Gold as you would certainly get rewarded when you successfully eliminate your pain points (especially the ones listed earlier in the article).
It is very important to keep in mind that as we are working on creating systems we are also having a bias for taking Action. This is how we would reach the Q1 section of the matrix.
The thing is, in order to deliver a consistently high-quality product:
Work on your systems at the earliest. Taking the help of experts will help you achieve your goals quickly and proactively avoid the unknown pitfalls
With a good and continuously improving system in place you are in more control of your product and can make better-informed decisions
Always have a bias for action. Just sitting thinking and building the process does not suffice.
Action → Analyze → Measure → Identify Actionable items → Take action → Rinse & Repeat
Hope you find the article an useful resource. Do share your feedback with me at prashant@PristineProtech.com, visit www.PristineProtech.com to learn more about our offerings and services…