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Quality from the Outset 

Andrew Charles promotes an inclusive approach to Quality Management from the outset, fostering a solution delivery mind-set with all team members engaged in and responsible for their own part ongoing quality assurance.

Our approach contrasts markedly with the traditional software delivery model, that of siloed developers building code and 'throwing it over the wall' to siloed testers, who execute an array of pre-defined tests against it.  This approach can only ever discover defects after the fact, often detecting issues so late in the development lifecycle that budget and time overruns - for which too many IT projects are famous - are practically inevitable.

Furthermore, the later in the development lifecycle defects are discovered, the markedly greater the cost of the remedial work required, and the greater the risk of introducing new errors into the software product.

However, the seeds of the most serious defects are typically laid early in the requirement specification and design process.  Finding them in the correspondingly early stages of the project slashes the risk, inconvenience, effort and costs that would be faced detecting those same issues during the later test or acceptance phases.

Our alternative approach is to invest quality into the project from the outset, in order to prevent expensive defects getting into the requirements or design in the first place.   Just like the software code, documents such as requirements and designs are integral to the overall solution.  In a quality conscious project, every input goes through a thorough quality assurance process during its development, from initial requirements forward, engaging each and every team member in the solution driven quality assurance process.

When done properly, improving quality by addressing technical and business risk factors in early lifecycle products is a high value-add activity. The results of taking a solution based approach to quality assurance from the outset are a great deal fewer surprises during the development and test lifecycle, reduced rework and testing costs, maintenance of planned scope and more reliable plans and delivery.

We think about assurance as an ongoing activity, not something we do after a piece of software has been built.  By assuring and testing products earlier in our projects, Andrew Charles can significantly increase the likelihood of avoiding technical surprises and thus bringing projects in on time

Build Quality into your Delivery 

Create the Quality Mindset

Ensure all team members, from Junior Analyst to Lead Developer, Customer Representative to Change Manager, share the Quality Delivery Mind-set.  Encourage discussion of and buy-in to the Quality Plan.  Understanding that building quality is an ongoing task, encompassing all the key project and programme artefacts, is essential.

Shared Understanding of Quality

Identify all key artefacts to be produced during the solution delivery lifecycle and define with subject matter experts, key designers and developers the business and technical risk profile, and therefore the appropriate Quality Criteria and evaluation techniques.

Create a Quality Solution Delivery

Ensure every member of the team is active and responsible for ensuring the Quality Aspirations are met.  Each component delivery must aim to be fit for purpose, rather than just fit to test.  The Quality Process must be activly and independantly managed to ensure that objective standards are maintained, and no-one falls victim to 'confirmation bias' or 'tick-box' complacency. 

Learn the Lessons, Apply the Lessons

Ensure the outcomes of all Quality Reviews, Inspections  and reultant actions are recorded and managed, much as software defects are managed, noting the Artifact under sruitiny, technique used and the Quality Issue uncovered. 

Summarise the lessons learnt in a clear honest and objective document, with the Change Management Team of the next project as the nominal audience.  Ensure both positive and negative attributes of the current project are detailed, so the next management team know both what does and does not contribute to a Quality System Delivery.

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