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"Leading Quality" - Connector of Business and Software Quality

Which book should you or your boss read first when you are interested in software quality? There are many books on quality out there. Still, few explain what quality is and how important it is to the business in a way that a boss who is not very familiar with software development can read and understand. Leading Quality is the very book to answer this request.

 

What is Leading Quality?

Leading Quality is a very informative book by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer in 2019. It is concise; to our surprise, they condensed two and a half years of research and interviews into a short, three-hour read. Although you can find many topics about software quality in it, this book is not a technical guide. This is a business reader on software quality.

 

Who is the Target?

It is for those who are the CEO and other C-suites, Vice President of Engineering, business managers whose business is software development, managers and team leaders who consider how to position quality in agile development, and all QA engineers and testers who want to show value beyond doing the testing.

 

Three sections in Leading Quality

The book contains ten chapters in three sections as below:

  • I: Becoming a Leader of Quality (Chapter 1, 2, 3)
  • II: Mastering Your Strategic Quality Decisions (Chapter 4, 5, 6, 7)
  • III: Leading Your Team to Accelerate Growth (Chapter 8, 9, 10)

Let's take a deeper look at each section and realise what the book tells us.

I. Becoming a Leader of Quality

In this section, we can learn how to influence internal views of quality so that every layer of our company is aligned around delivering a great user experience. Quality is not just a task of a tester; it needs a whole-team approach, as Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin argue in their excellent publication More Agile Testing. The key to creating a quality-oriented organisation is a quality culture, which a quality leader should cultivate.

Especially the exciting Chapter 2 shows us a remarkable framework named Quality Narrative. Quality culture is significant, but it is invisible. Ronald and Owais considered that the culture of quality should be found in what they think and talk about, I mean, narrative. The Quality Narrative has three aspects; the Ownership Narrative, the "How-to Test" Narrative, and the Value Narrative. Quality leaders should understand each narrative and watch the organisation. Through the process, they can clarify the quality culture at the time.

II. Mastering Your Strategic Quality Decisions

The second section describes making significant strategic decisions by walking through successful industry leaders' experiences and pearls of wisdom. There are several noteworthy topics, including the foundation of test automation (Chapter 4), the importance of feedback loops (Chapter 6), and how to invest in testing infrastructure (Chapter 7).

Chapter 5 shows that the quality strategy should be changed with product maturity. The book tells us that when a product is matured, the expectation of quality should be changed using the well-known Diffusion of innovations model and Karl Wieger's theorem. They introduce three stages: Validation, Predictability, and Scaling. This chapter inspires readers to check what stages your product is in.

III: Leading Your Team to Accelerate Growth

Why does quality matter? The answer is that it is essential to accelerate company growth. From the third section, we learn how to focus on the highest-impact activities that the organisation cares about. As discussed in Chapter 8, the keyword is the growth metric, or North Star Metric, introduced by Sean Ellis. The metric is the only one which an organisation pursues. Every division and team, including the quality team, perform their tasks to reach the goal. Testers have to answer the question "Why is this test needed?" related to the metric. Also, the impressive episode in Chapter 10 insists that the vision is the first and strategy is the second. Why? I urge you to read the book to find out.

 

Conclusion

Software quality can have a massive impact on your business. However, its value is underestimated. One of the reasons is the distance between business and quality. Leading Quality  become the first book to connect the gap.

Through three sections, the book argues that quality is a critical differentiator in today's software development landscape and that companies prioritising quality are more likely to succeed in the long term. Quality is not only for software development. It is a business matter, especially for companies starting to grow. The leader of quality should direct the strategy to accelerate growth.

Leading Quality  should be the first choice of people interested in software quality.

Mark Ward

Written by Mark Ward

Mark Ward, or Masanori Kawarada, is QA Brain, Global Quality Evangelist, translator, author, etc. His speciality is the software quality and utilizes knowledge learned in MBA journey. He loves to visit the international conferences around the world.