Three Definitions of Quality

Quality as conformance to requirements

This one speaks about requirements. I find that tricky mostly because:

  • not all requirements are explicit, there are many implicit requirements that some people might not be aware of unless they have a deep understanding of the product, domain, and users
  • not even explicit requirements are easy to come by in many cases nowadays; writting documents is slow and there’s usually not time for that; obviously it depends on what company, product, or team we are talking about, but I have not experienced written requirements that many times

Quality as fitness for use

This definition emphasises that the product should fit the use case our users have.

  • there are likely many different users; or to say it differently, not all users want to use the product in the same way, that could be the case only with some products are meant to solve a very particular problem
  • if something is fit for use, it doesn’t automatically mean there are no problems and nothing can go terribly wrong; imagine that a user uses the product for what they need, so everything goes fine on the surface, but there’s a problem with backups — and so e.g. in an unlikely event of a ransomware attack, no backups can be used, the users will loose their data; it still makes sense to look for problems, not only for fitness for use

Quality as value to someone

Yet another definition that highlights that a product is made for people and they look for what value the product can deliver. I think that expression “someone” or “some person” makes it a bit more clear that there might be many different users and they might value different things.

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