Quality; the hidden parameter

 Nov 13, 2014  |   Filed under: business, leadership, software development  |   Tags: Theory, Opinion, Agile, Business


I’ve always been a sucker for quality. Everything I take on I do to the best of my ability. Scope, schedule and cost have always been negotiable for me whilst quality has not. However I have discovered that if you don’t intentionally negotiate for high quality you may be trading it away without thinking about it.

This happens because quality is the hidden parameter. When pressed by cost, scope and schedule quality usually suffers because it is rarely measured. That’s why I have started to view quality as a non-negotiable part of the scope; it is a base feature that has to exist in order for the end result to have any value.

This does not mean that cost and schedule can be ignored, it only means quality can’t.

I’ll end this with a section from Yvon Chouinards book Let My People Go Surfing about Patagonia, which really resonated with me.

Weigh Quality First, Against On-Time Delivery and Low Cost

Every production department of every company has mandate to deliver a quality product on time and at a reasonable cost. Although it’s management’s job to treat these three goals as complementary rather than contradictory, what does a company do when it must face a choice?

Patagonia puts quality first, period. A more sales-driven company might scarifice a degree of quality to achive on-time delivery, and a mass marketer might sacrifice both quality and on-time delivery to maintain the lowest cost. But if you’re commited to making the best products in the world, you can brook no allowance for fabrics that fade on the shelf or zippers that fail or buttons that fall off.

Of course, if you do choose quality against on-time delivery or against paying a reasonable price, don’t pat yourself on the back. You’ve already blown it. You have to strive constantly to achive all three, but quality is “more equal”.

– Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing