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7 sensible steps to improve software quality

Thomas Wailgum | Aug. 17, 2010
These pragmatic practices, from Forrester Research, won't break the bank, cause a revolt among application development team members or slow down development processes.

Pragmatic Practice 3 Fine-Tune Team/Individual Goals to Include Quality
Impact on Quality: Meet business requirements; achieve a satisfying user experience; reduce defects.
Benefit: Team members perform according to their incentives, making quality improvement part of their goals reinforces desirable behavior.
Relevant Roles: Management.

Pragmatic Practice 4 Get the Requirements Right
Impact on Quality: Meet business requirements; achieve a satisfying user experience.
Benefit: Less rework means less retesting and fewer cycles, which greatly reduces the overall effort.
Relevant Roles: Managers, business analysts, user experience designers, architects.

Pragmatic Practice 5 Test Smarter to Test Less
Impact on Quality: Reduce defects.
Benefit: A focus on testing the most crucial and at risk areas ensures that they receive the lion's share of test resources and that any bugs that slip through are likely to be confined to the least-important features.
Relevant Roles: Quality assurance, managers.

Pragmatic Practice 6 Design Applications to Lessen Bug Risk
Impact on Quality: Reduce defects.
Benefit: Simpler, cleaner designs result in code that is simpler, cleaner, and easier to test and rework—which means that the code will have fewer bugs and that those bugs will be easier to diagnose and repair.
Relevant Roles: Architects, developers.

Pragmatic Practice 7 Optimize the Use of Testing Tools
Impact on Quality: Reduce defects.
Benefit: Automation frees resources from mundane testing to focus on the highest-priority tests and increases test cycles' repeatability.
Relevant Roles: Quality assurance, developers.

Visitacion and Gualtieri conclude that software quality is a team sport, and everyone needs to play.

"Quality must move beyond the purview of just QA professionals to become an integrated part of the entire software development life cycle to reduce schedule-killing rework, improve user satisfaction, and reduce the risk of untested nonfunctional requirements such as security and performance," they write. "Managers must make quality measurable and incent all roles on the team to improve it."


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