While software quality should be one the most important concerns in software development – alongside costs, schedules and features – it is often pushed to the sidelines. We think this is a mistake.
It happens because it’s difficult to measure software quality: you can’t put a number on it unlike project time and cost. And, if you can’t measure quality, how can stakeholders and management justify the cost of keeping it high?
Quality software requires quality attention
Despite the tendency for software quality to be pushed down the priorities list, poor quality can affect a software product more than any other factor:
- A lack of quality focus will slow down a software development project by increasing the number of bugs, the consequences of which could be disastrous.
- Ship a buggy or bad-quality product, and you put your reputation (and perhaps your career) at risk.
- Conversely, high quality products attract a premium price and, over time, burnish brands and reputations. Just think about the perception of quality, reliability and ease of use that surrounds Apple.
That’s why, as CIO, you need to push software quality up the agenda by taking ownership for it. Executive sponsorship is needed to change the way it is perceived and to overcome barriers to change.
As CIO, it’s all too easy to leave the software development teams to deal with software quality but that’s letting the students mark their own exam papers. Your oversight is essential for coordinating the separate teams and aligning them with your business goals.
Don’t do a healthcare.gov, or a New York Stock Exchange (and definitely don’t do a Volkswagen). Instead, become a champion of software quality and use it to differentiate and enhance your company’s services.