Continuous quality engineering and Built-in quality

Quality is built into the product, the process and the people

To deliver an IT system (“product”) with the right quality level, it is essential that quality be built into the process too, and that the people also meet specific quality standards. Tests are used to monitor the quality of the product during the whole IT delivery process. Built-in quality is one of the key principles in the Lean approach, as well as continuous improvement, elimination of waste and valuing people. Built-in quality, continuously improved, leads to Right-First-Time, where the outcome of the process meets the expectations: fit-for-purpose. Thus, the stakeholders have confidence they will achieve the pursued business value in their business process.

Handling of test and quality issues

Quality refers to the quality of the outcome of the IT delivery process: the product quality. Process and product quality are strongly linked. Business value is an essential perspective. That is why a quality-driven approach should also be business-driven. A product is specified and designed for all aspects of the product lifecycle. Any deviation in the expected product quality should be detected as soon as possible and should lead to improvement measures. Fixing the fault in the product is not enough, it is essential to improve the process and the people to prevent such faults from occurring again (for example by applying Root Cause Analysis). That is how quality is built in the product. That is how product quality is improved by adjusting the process and improving the people. That is also why in an organization with multiple teams, the people involved need a way to oversee the whole process and need a way to influence the total IT delivery approach. Quality engineering is integrated into the IT delivery process.

Collaboration between teams and staff organization

In high-performance IT delivery the focus of the work, and thus of process quality, is on individual teams. In organizations with multiple teams, however, none of the teams will have all knowledge and skills necessary to achieve all tasks. Traditionally in organizations we distinguish three types of organizational parts, the project organization (that focuses on developing), the line organization (that focuses on operations) and the staff organization (that supports project and line). In high-performance IT delivery the distinction between project and line organization fades or even disappears (esp. in DevOps). People may tend to think the staff organization is no longer relevant as well. However, the staff organization is still needed to support teams in tasks for which they don’t have the proper knowledge and or skills (and sometimes time and resources).

Staff organization in traditional and in high-performance organizations

Figure: Staff organization in traditional and in high-performance organizations