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How mature is your QA organization?
Presenting my own maturity model
Lately I was thinking about what should be the goal of a QA organization in a company… Thanks to the help of my colleagues, I realized that there are several answers to “what is quality” or “what is our goal as QA”.
So I’d like to share with you a simple, yet hopefully useful, maturity model for QA organizations:
Level 0: not Quality Assurance (QA) but rather Quality Check (QC)
Goal: be the last line of defence before release
It is saddening to say that a whole lot of companies are still using “QA” people as some kind of cheap testers that check quality at the end of the production line.
It may be even more saddening that even more companies ditched their “QA” team for even cheaper labor in offshore countries instead of actually moving to a more mature QA organization.
As you might expect, this job is usually dumb and not very rewarding.
There is not much to add here… Message to them: please have mercy on both your users and your employees. Please.
This QA level must be killed. We know better— and for a long time already.
Variant: automated QC
This is a variant where “QA” people are more automation engineers than they are testers. At least, in this model, the job is getting automated and is less dumb.
Yet it is still dumb from many angles, as they are still checking quality at the end of the production line. This results in headaches to manage to test code which has not been designed to be tested, and fixing dubious tests is an everyday task.
In the end, this is scaling only partly, as the maintenance of the dubious tests requires so much work. Plus development teams aren’t getting much benefit from these automated tests.
Arguably, this is a better level 0 situation because less bugs are let loose into production. However the mindset is the same: QC over QA.
Level 1: manufacturing-level QA
Goal: Zero Defects
You might not believe it if you’ve spent all your life in software shops, but QA or Quality Assurance actually means something in the manufacturing world. Even more unbelievable, the manufacturing world has managed the feat of implementing Zero Defects: factories outputting no “bugs” at all. And this is old. Like older than me.