In 1980 Philip Crosby wrote the book Quality is Free. In the book he explained how investing time and energy in building the right products with good quality will save money and time. And how it will also make you cheaper and faster than your competitors.
Many agile teams know how important software quality is, but they need to convince their managers and other stakeholders to get there. It will help them to self-organize and do their work in a good way.
35 years have passed, and although the quality of software products has improved we are not there yet. We’ve moved from rigid waterfall processes to agile and lean approaches where people and collaboration are valued more. We’re using feedback to learn and improve continuously. But we still see costly quality issues happening in IT.
Having agile processes alone won’t solve quality issues. Quality is still free. You need to have a quality mindset to delight your customers, and you will have to sell quality to your managers to help them to make the business succeed.
Let’s explore how you can sell that “quality is free” and build a business case for quality.
What is quality?
Quality is in the eyes of the customer. They value the products and services that you deliver, and they will pay what it is worth. You have to know why they want to have it. So quality starts with understanding your customers, their needs, and also what their customers expect of them.
Next to understanding your customer’s needs you also need to be able to develop and deliver high quality products and services. You need motivated people with good skills, processes and tools that help you to do the work, and a culture that supports getting the job done. This will help you to decide how you want to do the work that is needed to satify your customer’s needs.
Summing up, quality is understanding why and deciding how.
Selling quality to your managers
Selling quality isn’t easy, and it’s very important. If you want to improving the quality of your products and services then you have sell the importance of having a quality mindset and get your management to commit!
You need to have senior managers on board, make them aware of the importance of quality, so that they will support their agile teams when it comes to quality.
Data and facts help to sell quality, as I described in an article on the business benefits of reviews. Also managers have an important role when it comes to improving quality; managers should be driving quality to make it work.
The business case for quality
If you can show to your CxOs how the quality of your products serves the needs of his/her customers, then your CxOs will be sold! Some ways to do this are:
- highlighting cases where the quality of your product made a difference for one or more customers
- make visible where and why customers preferred your product above one from a competitor because of better quality
- know the price that you have paid for poor quality, the time and money that you lost due to defects and technical debt
- have data showing how the higher quality of your product has saved time and money of your customers
- gain an insight in the needs of your customers’s customers (end-customers), know why they are buying the product and why quality matters for them
These kinds of examples and cases will make clear that customers are willing to pay for quality, which makes a good business case to invest in quality and allow agile teams to find ways to develop and deliver high quality products.
The book What Drives Quality provides insight into the factors that drive the quality software products and services. Understanding what drives quality enables you to take action before problems actually occur, thus saving time and money.