Who Is Responsible for Software Quality?
We know quality is synonymous with testing. But, many people in the software development process think the quality is restricted to the QA’s job responsibility.
QAs definitely are on the last line of quality defense, but they can’t provide all the support for the product quality.
So, the question arises, who is responsible for software quality?
Quality – Present Day
Quality is a shared responsibility that involves everyone in the development team, including customers, requirements, design, development, testing, and support. It is not solely the responsibility of the QA team.
If your family has to be happy, you can’t just assign a person to your family to ensure everyone’s happiness and catch the person responsible if something goes wrong.
To use an analogy, just like how everyone in a family has a responsibility to ensure everyone’s happiness, everyone in a development team has a responsibility to ensure the quality of the product. It’s not enough to just assign the responsibility to one person and hold them accountable if something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, some organizations don’t take testing seriously and only hire a QA for each project to act as a scapegoat if something goes wrong. This practice is harmful and creates a toxic work environment where QA feels guilty and responsible for missing a bug.
Quality - it is the responsibility of the entire team
From the analysts who describe the requirements, to the support team that gets involved after the release.
Some potential issues can occur at different stages of the software lifecycle:
- Incomplete requirements can cause the project to go in the wrong direction from the start, leading to delays and rework.
- A tired or distracted manager may agree to a poorly interpreted requirement, which could result in stories that are not well-defined or well-understood.
- A developer might misunderstand what is expected of them, resulting in code that doesn’t meet requirements or doesn’t integrate with other parts of the system as intended.
- A developer may refactor the functionality and forget to inform the QA team, leading to bugs or unexpected behavior in the system.
- During testing, a QA engineer may skip a test case that has worked correctly in the past, leading to undetected issues or regressions.
- A DevOps engineer may forget to run a critical script during deployment, causing the production system to fail or behave incorrectly.
- Test data and environment on the test system may not match the production environment, leading to issues that are not discovered until later in the process.
Therefore, quality is the responsibility of each member in the team.
Why do we have QA then?
It’s important to understand that testing does not improve the quality of the product, but rather it provides information about the quality of the product. This understanding can help QA and the development team work together to ensure the quality and avoid scapegoating.
While QA alone may not directly improve the quality of a product, it can certainly contribute to our understanding and awareness of system quality. Through testing, we can gain insights into how the system operates, identify areas where improvements could be made, and detect issues that may require further attention.
QA can provide valuable insights and highlight areas that require improvement, so it is ultimately action that leads to actual improvement.
It is admirable to be passionate about ensuring software quality, but still it is essential to maintain a shared understanding of responsibility and accountability for quality among all team members. By working together and recognizing each other’s roles and responsibilities, the development team can ensure the delivery of high-quality software that meets the desired standards.
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