We are software quality experts, and when most think of software quality, they think of software testing, getting the bugs out, finding defects. Last week, I presented a software quality model with one of the elements being the organization. We have been working in this area of “Total Software Quality” for quite some time, through our Quality Process Assessment services. Many times, people as what kind of metrics and measurements are required and to give some examples of how quality characteristics can be connected from one part of the organization to another. I’ll be presenting a paper on “An Enterprise Framework for Evaluating and Improving Software Quality ” at the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference in October and one of the major themes of the paper is that each part of an organization contributes to the overall perception of quality from the end user’s viewpoint. Also central to the theme is that the quality of output from one part of the organization impacts another. So not just development and testing, but the entire organization.

I know it seems kind of abstract, so I thought I’d give a concrete example as shown in the figure below.

Software Quality Model - Product Management and Sales

Software Quality Model – One Operational Phase Influences the Next Phase

In this simple diagram, you can see that if sales does their job correctly, i.e. document customer needs well (completely and accurately), then the product management team can do their job well, in describing features and getting them into user stories and turning over to development. However, the opposite is true as well. Sales can mislead customers, or document needs incorrectly. This ultimately results in what? Firstly wrong product being built. But really, even though the software quality from a technical perspective could be perfect (no defects found, and no defects exist either (never), the end user still has the perception of poor quality. Just from this simple example, you can see that software quality starts from sales. What my paper presents is a general framework for taking the organization and its processes with intermediate work products and measuring the quality all the up to the point of the end user. With this type of framework, we can apply it to many types of organizations as well. You’ll have to wait until October to get the full article though :).