Sunday, 30 August 2020

QA Research and Tackling The Causes of Defects - A CEO's Perspective

I often find it difficult to articulate what testing, bug detection and quality assurance means at the C-suite level. I know for a fact that I am not the only one and the inability to articulate our benefits to the bottom line is a big problem among testers. We know that it reduces cost of rework and increases customer satisfaction (if done properly), however how do you quantify or articulate that to the people at the top? Also, would the CEO of a large company, say a multinational, really understand what tackling bugs and why they happen does not just to the health of products and services but also to the overall health and strategy of the business? Would the CEO understand why it is a priority deserving of major R&D, and be proud to discuss it with investors?

Then I found an example of a CEO who, for want of a better word, "gets it". I watched a recent interview with Richard White, the CEO and founder of the Australian logistics software company WiseTech Global. The part where he talked about quality enhancements (12:00 onwards) as their major R&D factor is impressive.

What made this stand out to me was that when asked about R&D and having the edge on competitors, he spent time talking about the continual work done with his CTO to find out why defects occur and waste occurs in software development. He was proud of their continual work in "squeezing out" the failure points and cleaning up technical debt (something that I have never heard a CEO even mention in an investor interview, and something that is de-prioritized often in favour of working on new features).

To me, the most powerful thing he said was that he saw their investment on the above and the plummeting defect rates as providing a higher "yield" on each dollar spent, using the example of a 32% yearly increase in product updates done with just a marginal increase in staff.

This is a tech company thus software development is the core of their work, however there have been more than a few tech companies that have neglected quality assurance. What this shows is a CEO and technology team who see QA as a major priority to the bottom line and have taken steps to quantify it, allocate R&D resources to drive defect rates down and then be able to present and proudly talk about it on a show aimed at investors.

If a CEO can articulate the value that working on QA and defect resolution and prevention can talk about it so proudly, precisely and articulately, we testers should too.

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