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What is a culture of quality?

Product quality is more than the sum of the tests you execute before a feature launch. Quality impacts every member of the organization, from the sales and marketing teams to developers and designers. In order to build the best possible product, teams must strive for a culture of quality, where everyone from the CEO to the interns understands quality goals and contribute to the QA process.

What is the Benefit of a Culture of Quality?

Every member of the organization is busy — so why ask them to add “product quality” to the list of things they’re worried about day by day?

Product Quality Impacts Everyone

Whether they’re part of the testing process or not, product quality impacts every part of the organization. Because quality can have influence over the overall success of the business, it’s important for every team to feel that they can have an impact on the quality process.

how product quality impacts an organizationThe Big Picture of Quality May Be Hiding Across Multiple Teams

Product teams think about usability as they start writing feature stories, developers create unit tests, QAs and QEs look for bugs and quality feedback can come from customers and customer success teams in production.

All of these areas contribute to the end quality of the product, but they are dispersed across a range of teams and moments across the product’s lifecycle. A quality owner can process and compile these sources to create a more cohesive QA process.

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Who Should Be Part of Your QA Team? Getting Creative to Build a Culture of Quality

Like all teams, QA teams can be constrained by budget considerations, or the desire to keep the team lean. By getting creative with their strategy for quality assurance, teams can tap into their broader organization to build a culture of quality that benefits everyone.

How to Build a Culture of Quality

There are many different ways to get your team involved with quality assurance. Here are three routes to fostering a culture of quality within your organization.

Foster a Shared Sense of Ownership

A culture of quality starts with a sense of ownership. Encouraging other teams within your organization to contribute to quality-building activities and demonstrating what they can do to help the cause. You may also want to work with HR and team leaders to integrate quality ownership into company values and priorities.

Another place that this ownership can start is in education. Teaching team members across the company how to look for and report issues will empower them to provide feedback, while giving them more insight into your quality assurance process.

Create Channels for Feedback

You may find that team members across the organization want to help, but may not know how they can contribute. Don’t let feedback get lost in the shuffle or leave would-be issue reporters hanging.

Make it easy for anyone across the organization to provide quality feedback. Creating low-friction channels for feedback is the first step — from QA office hours to a dedicated email alias or a Slack channel just for issue reports. Remind everyone that those channels exist until it becomes second nature to report issues as they come up.

Need an extra hand? Host a bug bash at lunch time (or happy hour) and invite everyone to come in and test new features. This provides the added benefit of getting people who aren’t always exposed to features early on (such as your sales team) more face time with the product.

Share Goals and Successes

Find forums for reporting on how your initiatives are going not just to executive staff, but to the team at large. If possible, recognize the contributions of individuals who contribute feedback and report issues. Closing the loop on their feedback will help encourage more in the future!

A key part of sharing success is being able to map your QA process to business goals. If you’re not already tracking how the QA team and strategy have impacted the company’s goals, learn how to do so now.

Getting Started: Case Studies in Building a Culture of Quality

Want to build a culture of quality for your team? Check out these examples of quality-minded organizations for inspiration!

Testing on the Toilet: Unconventional Ways to Share New Ideas

Read Google’s blog series based on the infamous campaign to bring better QA practices to every person who walks into the on-campus bathrooms at Google.

Test Fest: How Twyla Built Culture of Quality on Their Lunch Break

The feature development process can feel mysterious and intimidating from the outside. By inviting teammates from across the organization to participate in QA activities, a product team was able to build a greater sense of confidence and product awareness at Twyla.

From Quality Assurance to Quality Assistance: Atlassian’s New Model of Cross-Team Quality

To empower developers to take quality into their own hands, Atlassian reinvented the way they approached QA. Learn how they turned every dev into a QA, and every QA into a teacher, to improve the speed and efficiency of testing organization-wide.

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