Have you ever felt calculating and presenting quality metrics as a useless, time-consuming cumbersome task? If your answer is yes, then it seems you are not using the correct quality metrics to measure the quality of your application/release build or you are not aware of how quality metrics can be utilized to improve the quality as well as taking decisions.
This article will provide you some insights on the importance of carefully selected and well presented quality matrices. Reading this article will motivate you to use quality metrics smartly.
Why ‘Quality Metrics’ Matter?
Quantitative approach of measuring the quality with proper guidelines is essential to compare the quality of two builds or two projects as quality is subjective and differs from person to person. Isolating test execution cannot measure and improve the quality of a software. Carefully selected quality metrics need to be used to evaluate the quality aspects by identifying the initial level of quality, current quality status, deviations and quality achievements.
Apart from that, nowadays software companies tend to push their software to the market as fast as they could to gain competitive advantages. This behavior increases the risk of releasing a highly defective release to production environment. Quality metrics can provide a significant help to control the above , as quality cannot be compromised at any cost.
Following are some of the usages of quality metrics.
- Influence the decision-making
- Set quality goals
- Evaluate the testing effort
- Report the progress of the project
- Communicate an issue
- Foresee the risks using the deviations from the quality goals and take preventive actions
How to choose the right quality metrics ?
Selection of right quality metrics is crucial to get the maximum out of the quality metrics. Context, purpose/usage, traceability and audience are four key factors when selecting a metric. Apart from that having a common interpretation, actionability, accessibility and transparency are few other qualities of a good metric.
Selection of too vague metrics does not provide any actionable insight whereas too specific metrics are not comprehensive enough to represent the actual difference made to overall product quality. To derive the most benefit from metrics, it is important to keep them simple and relevant.
How quality metrics can be used to improve the quality?
Evaluating the quality of the software under development is the primary objective of using quality metrics. Quality of the system under test can be improved by identifying issues, analyze progress/trends and take corrective actions efficiently and effectively before it is too late.
Apart from that evaluating the current testing process and the testing strategy is one of the key benefits of using quality metrics. Metrics related to testing effort, test effectiveness, test coverage, test execution rates, defect finding rate etc. can provide valuable information about test progress and effectiveness of current testing methods. This information can help the quality assurance team to make relevant changes to the current testing process.
Furthermore, quality metrics can also be used to challenge the development team by setting high quality targets (Eg: Defect Severity Index should be less than 1.5 to pass the build) that can ultimately result in high process and product quality.
How Quality Metrics can be utilized to take managerial level decisions?
Usage of proper quality metrics increases the confidence of taking managerial level decisions.
Given below are some decisions that can be taken by observing the quality metrics.
- Development process improvements related decisions as quality metrics provide complete visibility of the effectiveness of software development efforts.
- QA process and strategy related decisions by observing how QA efforts add value to deliver high-quality software.
- Resource utilization related decisions
- Technology change related decisions by observing defect related metrics such as defect age, defect removal efficiency etc..
Accurate and timely details presented in an effective manner is vital to take management decisions. Having a central dashboard with up to date quality metrics provides great value to the decision-making process as quality metrics together can provide valuable insights than using it individually.
Build Quality Index is kind of a dashboard which presented quality-related metrics such as Defect Density, Defect Severity Index, Defect Status Distribution (DSD), Test Pass Ratio (TPR) related trend charts are presented on a dashboard concerning each build etc.
In conclusion, software quality metrics provide immense value to increase the quality of application /release build and overall decision making process. Hence, let’s pay more attention on calculating and presenting software quality metrics to take the maximum benefits out of them.
Nuwani Navodya is a Senior QA Engineer at Zone24x7. You can also follow her on LinkedIn.