During my work as an Agile Quality Coach, I notice that we often lack insights, especially when it comes to the quality of our products. In Agile environments, we talk about customer value. We want to deliver products that create value, but do we measure this value? In my experience, this often is lacking, or at least it is not shared with the teams.
Clients also want to know the value of quality engineering and have that value measurable or transparent. To measure this value, we need to look at the goal we want to achieve with the product and the organization's goals. These are generally like: "we want to increase customer satisfaction" or "deliver products more efficiently" or "be more agile by shortening our time to market." Usually, it is a combination of these three. In our Agile Quality Improvement Framework we call these the business drivers.
Although I firmly believe that you will achieve more results without a direct negative effect on the other goals if you make choices here. At a former client, we noticed that teams had more guidance when we reduced the number of goals from four to two, and they started achieving the set goals.
Returning to the value of quality, we ultimately want to deliver quality and contribute to the goal pursued. To know whether we are successful in this, we measure the results, and following the Agile mindset, we are also open and transparent about this. So, if we want to achieve higher customer satisfaction, we will also have to pay attention to this in our quality measures. It is essential to find out what is crucial to your users, for example, usability, flexibility, or performance. You want to take these aspects into account in your entire development approach, from design until production.
Now the question remains, what is the value of quality engineering and the amount of effort spent on quality assurance? We will never know exactly. I often compare it to a formula one team. They measure and adjust a lot, but in the end, they do not know what the specific effect of one adjustment will be. How come? Because there are always other factors at play, a change in the wind, the driver takes a different line, or perhaps a shift in asphalt temperature. What they do know is the overall result: the time around the circuit. That is how I see quality measures. We do not know the exact effect of a single action, but we check whether we are getting closer to our goal: a satisfied customer and a successful product.
As an Agile Quality Coach, I am helping teams to determine their goal and together decide what it takes to get there. In the following blog, I will share how we measure this value after setting these goals.
Published: 29 September 2021
Author: Wouter Ruigrok