Quality: An Introduction [What Quality is Not]

[continued from Crafting Excellence]

What Quality is Not

In more than two decades in the computer software industry, my experience is that most computer programmers are, in fact, human. For the sake of argument, I will make the logical leap that this also applies to most other jobs within this and other industries. As humans, we are prone to make mistakes occasionally.

Knowing that mistakes are likely to happen, it is important to point out that quality is not the same as perfection, nor should it be. There are too many subjective attributes of even the most basic software to ever achieve perfection, and never shipping any product in the futile search for perfection certainly does not denote quality.

Ironically, mistakes can be opportunities for improving the perception of quality. Most software users are at least sophisticated enough to understand software that does anything worthwhile is bound to have a few bugs. If a publisher or developer is responsive to a bug report from the user, that can potentially instill a greater feeling of comfort, despite the occasional problem. Likewise, involving testers and others in the process helps to create a feeling of proprietorship and, to some degree, loyalty.

Another potential development pitfall that should not be confused with quality is a situation known as “feature creep”. This is the process, basically, in which one begins to think of the omission of a feature as a failure and, hence, continues to add new features and code, seemingly forever. It is tempting to want to incorporate every single feature that any competing product has, but that can be detrimental to the final product. A title with six major features implemented well is more likely to be considered a quality product than one with a dozen poorly implemented features.

[continued in Keep Looking Up]

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