Quality Control

What is Quality Control?

It's not QualityAssurance. (QaIsNotQc.)

Quality control is the process of examining your output for minimum levels of quality in some dimension. The quality control team does not actually improve the quality, they just stop production when the measured quality drops below a given limit.

To restart production, the source of the quality problem must be identified and fixed, but this is beyond the responsibility of the quality control team.

Some quality control needs to be part of your overall quality process, in order to measure how well you're doing. See QualityIsFree. But there are diminishing returns for higher standards and larger teams. A cute quote is that it's like attempting to lose weight by weighing yourself more often.

There is certainly a point that adding more of the same doesn't usually pay. However, in your average software shop (not an XP nirvana), better QualityControl most certainly can in itself improve the quality. Making the difference between go and no-go is not unheard of. --AlexeyVerkhovsky

Quality Control must also cover the "people" part of the process.

You can correct the "process" but if you have people who 1) don't understand 2) aren't skilled 3) aren't trained 4) are misinformed 5) are uninformed 6) have some other correctable condition, then until the human element is corrected, your process will never be executed as expected.

This should not be confused with HR issues (working against the project, unwilling to work, etc.); these are conditions that can be corrected.

QualityControl is process initiated by management to protect their product and process. The lack of quality control will typically be evident by the lack of quality. I say typically because ContemporaryDevelopmentRoles may minimise many defects that may be identified and resolved by a quality control process.

I define this without tangible axis because there are various axis to quality and hence quality control. One axis is latent programmatic defects. A ManagementStrategy? may be to employ XP and AgileMethods to minimise this QualityConcern?.

It is up to management to ensure that their strategy ensures that teams produce quality products across all teams and all projects. They may ensure that ContemporaryDevelopmentRoles are employed effectively and they may mandate certain processes during development to identify issues and concerns that need to be resolved at some future point in time.

Quality does not have to be a burden on management. Management has to ensure that its business practices cater for the various quality concerns. A lack of understanding of these concerns will mean that irreproducible level of quality is the result. This may not be pretty. It also means that a good management team would be proactive in the identification of what their concerns are and how quality products should be produced.


Examples of QualityConcerns are GUI user interaction quality, business process quality, source code quality, user guide quality, developer guide quality, etc.

For example: An SDK and API may be sufficient for 3rd parties to integrate.

When reviewing quality some questions asked are:

These questions are all raised as part of the quality control process.

The ManagementCycle is below and should be implemented in terms of identifying what quality processes need to take place.

A QualityControlManagementStrategy? may be, etc, etc.

Understand the QualityConcerns and come up with a couple of strategies that management may use to minimise their risk. Its important to note that such processes may result in numerous issues in an IssueTracker? (bugzilla) that may still need to be performed. A saying of mine - better identified, planned and managed than having a client coming to you and wanting a hotfix NOW. The fact that you've identified the issue means that you are are not failing as a professional and you're not going to be put off balance in a discussion with a client.

QualityControl analysing your process and analysing your outputs to minimise the risks of poor quality. When your process is good then you're just analysing your outputs until something goes wrong i.e. ManagementCycle.


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