What is Quality?


Working as a Software Quality Assurance Engineer for many years I’ve always been thinking about Quality, that:

Quality — is a subjective measure of a correlation between a product or service and an ethalon. And the ethalon is defined by requirements, standards and common sense.
(Russian: Качество — субъективная мера соответствия продукта или услуги эталону, определяемому требованиями, стандартом или здравым смыслом)

Very complex and pretty uncertain definition, right?
Which is not valid for me anymore.

Now I think about Quality, that:

Quality — is a fitness for purpose.
(Russian: Качество — соответствие предназначению)

Or, indeed, the same:

Quality — is an execution level.
(Russian: Качество — классность исполнения)

How well is a good or service at execution level? How well it executes?
If it’s great at execution level, then it’s recognized as a quality one and it goes to Production.

Why do we chase for Quality?

The thing, that you can’t sell anything, you can’t make a business on something, that badly executes. Because business — is a multiplication result of an idea on execution level, multiplication result of an idea on Quality.

Ideas worth nothing unless executed.
Ideas are just multiplier. Execution worth millions.
For example:
Awful idea = -1
Weak idea = 1
So-so idea = 5
Good idea = 10
Great idea = 15
Brilliant idea = 20
No execution = $1
Weak execution = $1000
So-so execution = $10,000
Good execution = $100,000
Great execution = $1000,000
Brilliant execution = $10,000,000
To make a business, you need to multiply two (idea on execution).
 — Getting Real, 37signals

That’s why Quality matters so much: it makes a value for the business to trade. Quality defines how much business worths.

And that’s why Quality Assurance Departments exist.
And that’s why Quality is not a trade-off.

Thank you!