After making the rounds doing talks at both Mobile Dev + Test in San Diego and Better Software West in Las Vegas, I’ve had a chance to reflect on some of the comments and discussion during my sessions and there is one resounding theme. Value.

We can think of defining software quality in many terms such as defects, requirements, code quality, etc. But when you think about it, it all has to do with the value for the end user. Value is not usability, and value is not defects found and fixed. The problem of course is that value is subjective and different for everyone, so it’s difficult to measure and sometimes even difficult to abstract. That’s probably why no software quality models or academic papers discuss the topic. It’s just too nebulous.

At BSCWest in Las Vegas, I got a chance to talk to some of the other presenters, Gerie Owen and Peter Warhol, about their presentation “A Wearables Story Testing the Human Experience”. The end of the presentation was centered on User Value Stories. Adapting their value story concept to software in general:

  • A scenario describing a realistic situation in which the software provides the user with benefit
  • Based upon how users of the software use it in their daily lives
  • There are multiple stories per persona

Developing a new model for defining software quality, or instantiating one that includes end user value seems like an extension of user experience. Obviously, no value and the user’s experience, while perhaps good in the beginning, does not last. This is certainly the case for many wearables, as research is showing that the stickiness of wearables is limited. The reason? Limited user value over the long term.

At the end of the day, we need to move our software quality measurements and ways for defining software quality toward value for the end user that can readily translate into meaningful measures for the bottom-line and top-line.