What is good enough?

QualityIf you participate in any coffee shop/machine conversations (they replaced the water cooler by the way) about agile and the minimum viable product approaches that are the latest approaches to delivery, then you will always get around to the quality issue. What is the quality issue? Well it stems from the circa 2010 poster that was hung in Facebook’s offices that said ‘Better Done Than Perfect’. This credo is at the root of the agile and MVP approaches.

The coffee machine comments amongst engineers, particularly test and QA engineers goes to the view that in many circumstances the rush to market results in the delivery of poor quality products with fundamentally missing features. This is a very common view based on my liking for coffee. The phrase ‘Better Done Than Perfect’ is envisaged in the engineer’s mind as the product gets thrown out the door to schedule with evil bugs and lack of features just as a shovel removes the proverbial excrement because the emphasis is on Done and not Better or Perfect. In fact in many organisations this has become the interpretation of the phrase, and a second phrase comes up that says ‘we can fix it in post’… in other words, we can deploy a patch release quickly after the deployment and ‘solve’ the issue. In other words, some organisations throw quality out of the window to meet the interpretation of the phrase that I have described.

However that is not the meaning that should be taken, in that Better here means more desirable or effective and the focus of the word is on Done – in other words the product needs to be desirably and effectively done rather than perfect. The meaning of the phrase then is less about how to deliver quickly than about defining what is ‘good enough’, the target quality, and aiming for that to ensure the quick pace to market. This is where the focus needs to be and this is true whether you are delivering ‘old skool’ using Waterfall or using agile and DevOps. The focus in any new product delivery right at the beginning and throughout needs to be on defining what is the ‘good enough quality’ at a quantitative level and applying this to the delivery process at every level to ensure that you deliver good enough products to satisfy and elate the customer and not just to time.

There are many approaches to defining quality and MVPs, something that our consultants have a great deal of experience in and if you want to hear more about more quantitative approaches to quality in agile then drop us a line to talk further at http://www.fairmilewest.com/contact-us/ or on email via contact@fairmilewest.com.