Quality Assurance Leadership

"There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity, and courage" - Fushan Yuan

You don't have to be an executive-level leader to champion the cause of QA, but it helps.

Without a commitment from executive management, QA efforts will have a limited positive impact on product quality (trust me on this, I have the scars to prove it!).

To get that commitment and the needed resources to implement a successful Quality Management System, a business case should be created, outlining the advantages to the financial health of the company.

Following are some suggested steps to get you started:

Start by QA'ing Yourself

No matter what your ranking in the organization, you have identified yourself as a QA leader.  As a champion of the cause, you have to make sure that you walk the talk and don't take shortcuts in your work.

You are preparing to convince decision makers to spend time and money on long-term improvements.  Make sure that you really believe in what you're doing and are truly convinced of the benefits before trying to sell QA to others.

To make a difference, you have to be prepared for resistance.  You have to view QA as a mission to remain focused and keep moving forward.

Identify Decision Makers and Their Priorities

Find out who signs off on the budget you'll need for your QA efforts.  Also, identify who may have the most influence on them.

Your goal is to focus your sales efforts where they have the desired effect - funding for your QA efforts.

Don't worry if you're not a salesperson by nature.  Just focus on getting the facts for now and ensuring that your message will be directed to the right person(s).If you're new to QA and are chomping at the bit to make an impact (or even a grizzled old QA'er like me still tilting at windmills), you may be tempted to just jump in and create a to-do list for everyone to follow, outlining your view of QA nirvana.  Here's a tip: don't do it...at least not as your first task.

Before selling a cure, you first have to diagnose the problem, so begin by asking some basic questions:

  • Where does it hurt? Which of my company's products or services is in the greatest need of improvement?
  • What are my steps to create a QA analysis of the problem?
  • Who are the key people to involve?
  • What is my approach to gain interest, and ultimately buy-in, from the decision maker?
  • Does the decision maker have a long-term view or are they focused on short-term results?
  • Does the decision maker understand the software development process, or is some orientation/education needed before presenting  your business case?