Quality Drives Productivity

The Economist recently ran an article entitled “Unproductive production” indicating the difficulty of measuring whether Productivity in an economy had really increased. One of the points which was interesting was that as long there are more people in employment and they are building more items the economy will continue to grow. However, the main concern is whether these people are being put to good use. This is where (in the Software Industry) we look to have Quality Drive Productivity.

There have been a lot of Productivity gains in the last few years in Software and in the Quality Control and Quality Assurance areas in particular. We have moved away from manual testing to automated testing and gained a huge jump in Productivity. We have refined our testing methods to improve the way we write and execute test cases and, in return, gained a positive ROI. We partnered with development and the user to make more effective use of the testing time we have and cut back on waste and inefficiencies. We have embraced completely new Software Development Methodologies stretching from one end of the process to the other and integrated Quality Control throughout. In the recent past we have outsourced testing to specialists who are experts in the field. And lastly, we have off-shored lots of testing to cheaper resources.

Two questions remain after all this:

  1. Are there further Productivity gains possible under the current processes?
  2. Is the current methodology really increasing Productivity?

By extension, there are probably some further minor Productivity gains under the current processes but to gain a real productivity increase will require a complete rethink of the process. So the answer to the first question is a qualified yes. For the second question, the answer is a little more difficult. If we take as given the first four items as no longer increasing productivity, then we are left with outsourcing and off-shoring as our current methodology for increasing productivity. This is where the referenced article raises the point as to whether these methods are really increasing productivity. The answer is probably no!

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