Quality Is Dead. Resuscitate It.

When James Bach says something I listen.

And when he says Quality is Dead, the first step is denial. But reading (and re-reading) his post makes me think. Have we, as consumers, given up on quality?

Last week Google’s Gmail servers went down for a couple of hours. Of course, there was some noise in our Internet bubble, even a little outside of it. But there was no massive movement to leave Gmail. The other options are not great either, I know.

James presents the business decision of companies to lower the quality intentionally, on the premise that customers will accept the poor quality result. Big companies assume that their customers will learn to live with poor quality and service, and that the risk of loss is less then the money savings.

Frankly, working for a commercial company, with finite resources, the reality is that we need to defer stuff. And stuff includes quality. We ship a new release of Isolator about every 1.5-2 months, knowing it’s not perfect. We assume that customers receive better value now, with the risk of discovering new bugs. It’s a business decision as well.

The business and customers symbioses is built on the business lowering costs (and reducing quality as a tool) and customers lowering their expectations, because they know they won’t get something completely working out of the box. Is this the way it’s going to always be?

Apparently James has a couple of ideas (he says at the bottom of the post), which I can’t wait to hear. What I can offer is my personal view as a developer of a tool relating to quality.

I don’t think any developers likes to do a bad job. (I’m generalizing). But circumstances take the better of us. Time pressure, relationships, and a thousand other distractions can impact your professional work. What can you do? Commit and do. Be in integrity. Do what you think you can do, within your influence, for quality. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself, so it’s your responsibility. Get professional.

If you get irritated by quality of products you receive, it’s your opportunity to change that for products you make.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think any developers likes to do a bad job.

    Dude – this is a gross over simplification of what goes on in software development. When you factor in inexperience, incompetence, laziness, arrogance and plain old desire to do as little as possible but look good to the boss, you will see a clearer picture.

    If I sound like a grumpy QA guy, I am not! I managed engineering teams at small and large companies and have returned to my engineering roots. I speak of this from having been burned by all the issues I mention above.

  • Gil Zilberfeld

    I completely understand what you’re talking about. And still, with all the pressure around, I still think that at the end of the day, people feel good about themselves if they did a good job. I do.

    So it’s coming down to this: If you don’t feel you’re doing a good job, what do you do about it?
    It’s up to you to train yourself, increase your productivity, and look good for the boss (by showing results).

    And, if you’re content with mediocrity (or less), you’ll find yourself out quickly, especially in these turbulent times.