We talk a lot about the ‘quality’ of nearly everything in our everyday lives, whether it’s a device, appliance, raw material, clothing, food, or anything else. Everyone appears to have their own definition of quality. Although it is difficult to agree on a single definition of quality, we can define various dimensions or parameters against which something’s quality can be measured. Reliability, usability, ease of use, value for money, and fit for purpose are some of these dimensions.
We strive to provide a high-quality software product – website, web application, mobile application – in software houses, a product that can please customers. This means that even if you design a product that meets all of the requirements, the consumer may still be dissatisfied. Naturally, the question arises, “How do we offer a quality product that will satisfy our customers?”
The above-mentioned question will be addressed in this article. This is a manual for producing high-quality products and satisfying customers. We’ll take a quick look at the conventional and modern definitions of quality in this post. It will assist us in comprehending how things have evolved and what has become obsolete. Moving forward, we’ll look at a framework called the quality wheel that can be implemented in any organization to ensure consistent delivery of high-quality products to customers.
Traditional Versus Modern Concept of Quality
Quality is a term that can be used to any product in a variety of situations. Because the scale of production was limited in the early days, craftspeople who produced a product were responsible for the quality of their products.
When mass production began, a dramatic shift in the concept of quality happened. Companies attempted to make products of a given level of quality that met specified criteria. Customers were pickier as time went on, and their demands grew.
Due to the shift in circumstances, businesses have to keep up with the demands of their customers in order to survive and eventually flourish. As a result, quality approaches have evolved and perspectives on how to achieve quality have shifted. We’ll look at the contrasts between old and modern quality concepts in this part. We’ll look at the contrasts in terms of our own software development sector.
Inspection Versus Prevention
In the conventional quality paradigm, inspection was one of the most important parts. The product was developed, and after it was finished, an inspection was carried out. The purpose of the inspection was to compare the product to a set of standards. If any flaws were discovered, the crew would have to redo the work.
This approach is easily comparable to the software development life cycle’s “Waterfall Model,” in which testing was handled as a distinct function after the software product had been fully developed.
The modern era, on the other hand, believes in the preventative principle. It refers to taking a proactive approach to the development process in order to ensure that a high-quality product is produced. Processes, tools, and approaches are all part of this.
This is analogous to the agile technique, in which the product is tested as it is developed. The technique to preventing defects is following a strategy that can predict a problem and allow you to work on it ahead of schedule. Business analysts, testers, developers, and the project manager, for example, can sit down and discuss a requirement from a business and implementation standpoint. This is an excellent technique to identify any conflicting requirements or side cases during the discussion process that would otherwise appear after product development.
Quality as a Cost versus Quality as a Profit
Previously, obtaining quality was thought to be an expense. Any expenditure on equipment, procedures, or processes to improve quality was viewed as a cost. The management was wary about spending too much on quality
Gradually, management recognized that in the long term, good quality equals profit. Customers will be satisfied and return if a company invests in the tools, methods, or procedure to produce a high-quality product. Eventually, the benefit gained from improved quality outweighs the expenditure invested.
As a result, the modern approach emphasizes investing in procedures and equipment in order to provide high-quality products.
Responsibility of Quality Department versus Responsibility of Everyone
Employees used to be held accountable for low quality in the traditional workplace. The responsibility for maintaining and managing the quality of the produced output was delegated to a separate quality department. As you may imagine, many waterfall software development teams consider the quality assurance team to be accountable for delivering a bug-free product. As a result of this strategy, several developers have left known bugs in their applications, only to have them discovered by testers and repaired later.
The modern method, on the other hand, instils quality accountability in every team member. It is based on the principle that each team member is accountable for the quality of his or her work, e.g., business analysts are responsible for documenting good requirements, architects are responsible for the application architecture, developers are accountable for the quality of code, and testers are accountable for the testing process execution. They are all responsible for creating a high-quality output when working together.
A good quality product is likely to be generated if everyone participates to the project while keeping quality in mind. Yes, quality assurance engineers ensure that the product meets the customer’s needs and is bug-free at the end of the day. However, no one on the team can easily isolate oneself by blaming poor quality on the quality team.
Meeting Standards vs Continuous Improvement
It’s possible that you’ll be astonished when you read this. Companies used to aim to provide items that met a set of standards. A product’s acceptable deviation range was established, indicating that a specific level of fault was acceptable. Management established the quality requirements.
Yes, you read that correctly. The aforementioned strategy did not inspire anyone to go above and beyond the specified goals — the corporation was simply interested in meeting them. If a company is already achieving industry requirements, there is no need to improve the process further.
The current quality strategy, on the other hand, strives for constant improvement. It is consumer-focused and takes action based on customer feedback. Complaints, requests for additional features, and admiration are all examples of feedback. As a result, our software sector has become more customer-focused in recent years. We don’t only look for compliance with regulations while producing and delivering a product; we attempt to go above and beyond to please clients and consumers.
Different Approaches for Improving Quality in Organization
To increase quality in your firm, you can use a variety of ways. The PDCA cycle, Six Sigma, IEEE standards, Baldrige Performance Excellence Programs, and Total Quality Management models are among the models and standards available.
A simpler way is the PDCA cycle, which stands for plan, do, check, and act. It necessitates an examination of your procedures and the selection of one specific area for improvement. You carry out the enhanced practices and evaluate the outcomes. If the results are positive, the same improvement system is implemented across the board. There are lengthy checklists and criterion in other standards. The higher the number of criteria you meet, the better.
Understanding the Wheel of Quality
Now we’ll grasp Kenneth H. Rose’s quality wheel, as outlined in his book Project Quality Management: Why, what, and how. This tool provides a clearer idea of how to arrange each puzzle piece to achieve the desired result.
The wheel’s center of gravity is training. Trainings are an important aspect of any excellent organization’s staff skill development program. Employees’ skill sets are enhanced and polished through training. They can adapt to new technologies and stay competent in the sector by attending training sessions and workshops on the newest tools and technology.
Customer Focus and Requirements
As previously said, today’s industry has shifted its focus to the customer. It’s crucial to remember that a client isn’t just someone who pays money to build a product. Instead, there are those who are categorized as external or internal customers who are active in the project. Identify and include all customers in your process.
Customers contribute input into your project or help you design a product. These criteria might range from general needs to comprehensive specifications. Your team’s skilled business analysts can play a critical role in determining and documenting good requirements. Your quality standards are set by your customers’ expectations. They might provide positive, constructive, and negative feedback about your product in the form of compliments, suggestions, recommendations, and complaints. Customer feedback helps you define your next goals and improve even more.
Variation and Processes
Variation is a natural part of any manufacturing process, and variations can lead to faults. Despite the fact that each project is unique, there may be some tasks that are repeated throughout projects. Identifying such jobs and establishing a procedure for them is a start in the right direction.
Standard processes for many activities in your company might be established. In the software sector, for example, coding norms, requirements management processes, and quality assurance processes can all be defined. Internal audits and reviews can be undertaken to ensure that the organization’s processes are being followed correctly.
Techniques are used to convert consumer requirements into required outputs in a process.
When a process is improved, the end result is a better product. This is in line with the 85/15 rule, according to which
85 percent of the issues we face at work are caused by the process itself and are under management’s control. Employees are only in charge of 15% (or less) of process problems.
The aforementioned approach places a premium on management’s ability to improve processes and determine what caused an issue or defect. This highlights one of the modern approach’s
tenets, which states that rather than criticizing workers for poor quality, the system should be improved.
Continuous Improvement and Controls
Your company will strive for continual improvement, as the term suggests. Meeting needed specs only means you’re working just enough to avoid sanctions or penalties. It suggests you’re protecting your investment, but it doesn’t help you compete. Exceeding customer expectations is the key to ensuring complete customer satisfaction.
Controls are the tools that can be used to fully build a product. Continuous improvement implies looking for ways to improve your processes and procedures on a regular basis. This includes striving to eliminate the root causes of problems in order to prevent them from reoccurring in the future.
Leadership is the unifying factor that holds all of the quality components together.
Leadership is in charge of steering the firm toward its goals. Effective leaders are aware of their responsibilities. The goal is to improve output quality and performance while also caring for employees and their morale.
This brings us to the finish of our high-quality voyage through the traditional and modern eras. It’s time to review what we’ve learned so far. The definition of quality has shifted dramatically. In today’s environment, businesses have become customer-centric, and their expectations have become the gold standard for excellence. Now, it is thought that management is accountable for developing a system capable of producing a high-quality product.
We discussed numerous models for improving an organization’s quality standards. Following that, we went over the quality wheel in detail, which can be used by any organization to create a high-quality product that meets consumer expectations. The cornerstone of quality is training.
Employees with increased skill sets are utilized to receive client requests and put them through a process with the goal of continual improvement. All of these elements are held together by the leadership or top management to form the wheel of quality work.
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