Many people think Quality Assurance (QA) is only testing. This surprises me, after working many years as Quality Manager to prevent defects and improve products.
Apparently I’m not the only one which is surprised, and I’m very happy that Tom and Kai Gilb formulated the Real QA Manifesto.
To quote them:
We know how to do real QA much much better than testing alone, using smarter upstream engineering practices, based on design, prevention and upstream inspections.
There is lot’s of evidence that many defects can be found much earlier and cheaper then by testing alone, e.g. by doing reviews. And that by focusing on the root causes, people can learn from defects and prevent that similar mistakes are made in the future. This fits perfectly with Lean and Six Sigma, by preventing that defects are made and thus reducing lead time and waste.
I have implemented techniques like review and root cause analysis for several customers, it’s a small investment which pays back quickly. I am one of the first subscribers to the Real QA Manifesto (here’s a snapshot of the page with my signature). As an adviser I am able and willing to help management to achieve the Real QA Manifesto elements.
One thing still surprises me: Given all the evidence that defect prevention really pays off, and the fact that most engineers like to do Reviews and Root Cause Analysis once they understand how to do it and get benefits out of it, why doesn’t management promote and support Real QA more often?
Note: Post updated on August 29, 2017, links corrected to the manifesto. The original publication on the Gilb website is gone, but there’s a archived page with signatories :-).