We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

One of my favourite quotes is “We have met the enemy and he is us‘. It originated from the Pogo comic strip and has lasted throughout the years. It seems to ring so true for many Quality Control initiatives. It is not as if we start out to be our own enemies but frequently we seem to end up in that position.

A short story might illustrate one of the most common problems. We had a client to whom we supplied some training. As a prelude to the training, we tried to get some idea of what was currently viewed as the major problem or problems in the organisation. The common concern was “Too much testing”. The obvious rejoinder to that was Why and the answer we received was that there was Zero tolerance for defects in production. Knowing that zero defects is pretty difficult to achieve although someone did claim recently in a LinkedIn group that it could be done, the question was how they felt that testing endlessly was going to help achieve the desired result of no defects in production. A little more digging and a few more questions and we had an answer. People felt that if they tested all the hours they could, whether or not it was effective use of their time, then they could not be faulted if (when), the inevitable problem showed up in production. In other words, we have exhausted ourselves testing everything in sight so anything left could not possibly have been found in the time before promotion or launch.
This is where Quality Assurance differs from Quality Control. Quality Assurance would be asking the following:

  • What benefit is being gained from the testing?
  • Is this an effective use of the time?
  • Is there a better way of doing this?
  • Does this effort actually have a positive ROI?

Testing faster or longer does not always provide what you want. Give us a call to see what is the most effective process to use.

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