Agile doesn't improve quality. Can we release a world class product?

There is a common concern by management that Agile doesn’t make a difference to the product quality. How do we release a product of world class quality?

 Problem is two folded:

  1. 'Definition of Done' is not created with Quality in mind, nor is it measured against the quality set at the beginning of the project.
  2. Quality Goals and subsequent adherence ensures quality is met and not just meeting 'Definition of Done' (DOD) criteria. For example DOD may be met, but quality may still be poor if not managed appropriately. How – lets discuss this through the session.

 Once the quality goals are defined for a project, Definition of Done should align with these quality goals.

At McAfee, we have released world class quality products through Agile Methodology and Quality Best Practices together. One exceptional method we practice is by defining and tracking "Effective Quality Goals" for each sprint, and at every release.

By driving agile projects through quality goals, we have products with ZERO defects deferred / logged by customers, 90+% code covered through automated test, 70% defects found early through development practices. This magic was not in just one project, but close to a dozen projects in the last 3-4 quarters.

In this presentation, we will explain about how we changed the paradigm in the last 2 years and released world class quality products in a short span of time.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

Introduction and problem statement - 5 min

Presentation of the paper - 30 min

Question and Answer session - 10 min

Learning Outcome

Take away from successful implementation of Quality Goals and its linkage with Definition of Done - case study from McAfee.

Target Audience

Agile Coach, Team, and Quality Management

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

Comments Subscribe to Comments

comment Comment on this Proposal
  • AgileSattva Consulting LLP
    By AgileSattva Consulting LLP  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jayaprakash,

     Was interested to know if the data you are sharing is real time data, and by your experiences? Would also like to know if you would share what are the engineering practices and other practicies you did to achieve this?

    Deepak!

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Deepak,

      Sorry, I was traveling so could not respond to you.

      My paper is truly based on the experience that I had in multiple projects. We noticed a significant improvement in quality by driving through "quality goals".

      The QA teams were pretty well doing their job. The missing factors were from development practices. So, the engineering practices that we focused were - peer code reviews, unit testing, automation etc.

      I have historical data from multiple projects to show that this works !

  • Ebin John
    By Ebin John  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jayprakash,

    I am wondering that "Agile Lifecycle" theme is a better fit for this topic. Can you please elaborate why this is a topic for Beyond Agile?

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Ebin,

      Just want to update you. I did change the theme to "agile lifecycle". After a long thought, I also agree that it is not really beyond agile. Thanks for the input !

      Rgds,

      Jp.

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Ebin,

      In the paper, we are focusing on driving quality through setting and achieving quality goals. That's the reason, I just marked it under beyond agile. Let me rethink and will get back over the weekend.

      Thanks for the feedback !

      Rgds,

      Jp.

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Ebin,

      In the paper, we are focusing on driving quality through setting and achieving quality goals. That's the reason, I just marked it under beyond agile. Let me rethink and will get back over the weekend.

      Thanks for the feedback !

      Rgds,

      Jp.

  • Sajith Pilakkavil
    By Sajith Pilakkavil  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    JP - I definitely agree that Agile will help the companies to make frequent releases to meet the business requirement. About quality, it is again depends on where you apply the process.

    It would be a great idea to think how we can apply Agile into a technically complicated legacy solution, which needs to satisfy frequent business demands which comes with hard timelines? The only place you compromise is on the quality and not definitely on the business which returns millions of dollars. In such cases, if the quality is the focus for moving these teams to follow Agile, then the organization should be ready to compromise on certain things.

    It is a right fit for teams who doesn't have much pressure on delivery and less complex code base also blessed with lot of experienced staff.

    All these are debatable topics and this is just my view based on my experience with Agile.

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Sajith,

      Thanks for sharing your views. Yes, in today's world, when it comes to $ value and quality, the former takes higher precedence. It is also because we have been living in the world of releasing a compromised quality product and releasing patches later.

      I see this challenge a lot more in teams that are transitioning to agile methodology. There is a lot of chaos in during storming / norming phase of the transition. These teams are used to releasing product with fixed scope and schedule. This need to be broken. Management's commitment and focus in implementing agile-scrum as defined, is the way to break this. When this doesn't happen, the teams endup blaming at Agile for not improving quality. This is a myth.

      The teams which releases high quality products keeps the bar high and continue to improve release over release. Interesting discussion though :-)

      Rgds,

      Jp.

  • Tathagat Varma
    By Tathagat Varma  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jayaprakash - from the synopsis, it is not very clear what is new/different that you are proposing or addressing. Apart from perception that agile shortchanges quality which might need a change management strategy for all stakeholders, on operational view within the teams, the expectation is very clear in terms of defining their own doneness criteria, and as much challenging as it might be, we ned to constantly keep workong on it and improving at it. To that end, I consider this as an important but a normal problem. Can you help the reviewer panel understand your proposal a bit better by describing the problem statement better and also share more insights into what you actully did and what were the results after that?

    -TV

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Tathagat Varma,

      Thanks for your comments. In my experience, I have seen teams releasing great quality products as well as not made much quality improvements in agile model.

      The teams released higher quality products followed "Quality Goals" approach and sincerely achieved the goals. I uploaded the presentation with more details as to how can we define quality goals for agile projects. Please review and get back to me if you have any more comments.

      Have a great weekend !

      Rgds,

      Jp.

  • Ted Tencza
    By Ted Tencza  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Jayaprakash,

          I wonder if you would go into greater details on what you are going to be presenting.  Are you just refining the "Definition of Done" to include quality acceptance criteria?  If not, what are you adding, and how is it different from normal agile practise.  Are you going to be discussing testing methodologies and how they fit into the agile workflow at your company?

         I see that you assert that agile doesn't make a difference in quality, but I would disagree with that, and would want you to defend it a bit more.  Agile methodology improves quailty considerably when compared to waterfall death march type projects. 

    Thanks.

     

    • Jayaprakash P
      By Jayaprakash P  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Ted,

      Thanks for your comments. I fully agree that Agile does improve quality and I am with you :-). I am a big believer of both agile and quality.

      However, I noticed that there is a myth from management / few team members that agile doesnt improve quality and the problem is multi-folded. I have seen the following issues occurring in multiple projects (especially from the teams in transition mode to agile-scrum), which failed to release a great quality and blamed at agile for the failure.

      1. Teams don't follow the practices suggested in Agile methodology - ex., DOD, clearing ttechnical debts sprint over sprint. Lets take DOD as an example. DODs are either not set effectively to improve quality or set but not tracked closely at story / sprint level.

      2. Schedule-Resource-Scope are fixed in agile projects and so the obviously the variable is quality - ex., deferred defects.

      3. Skillset - Newly transitioned teams don't focus on improving their skillset and that is an impediment. There is still a big wall between DEV and QA. Since the team cannot contribute to all aspects of development, it comes to few people and they get squeezed in to all activities.

      4. Unclear roles & responsibilities of PO, SM and team, which leads to ownership issues when it comes to quality. Ex., PO just focusing only of the deliverable but not the quality, SM not driving scrum practices effectively etc.

      Fixing the above will definitely improve quality. Beyond these points, at McAfee, we also came up with driving projects through "Quality Goals". These goals are defined by scrum teams and tracked sprint over sprint to make sure the quality is not compromised. For ex., 75% code covered through unit test is a goal. These goals are connected with DOD items so they are tracked in every story / sprint. Any deviation is brought up in sprint review / retrospection and necessary action is taken. Fixing the above points and setting a good stretchable "Quality Goal" helped us to release world class quality product.

      I will soon upload the presentation that I am working on. That should throw light on some of these aspects.

      The objective of this paper is to communicate that just moving from traditional methodologies like Waterfall to Agill alone doesn't improve quality and they need to focus on & measure quality improvement sprint over sprint.

      Your feedback / comments are welcome !

      Rgds,

      Jp.


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