Why I started a Quality & Software Validation Firm
When I started my career in software quality assurance and testing, I was really excited about the opportunity afforded me in a rapidly growing industry.
Back in 1998 – the dot com boom was in full swing and everyone was making money building software applications at a record pace.
I started out in the automotive repair information world and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
Having left the Navy only 6 years prior, it was amazing how much the Submarine Sonar Technology I’d been trained on, was so far behind the technology utilized to create the products I was testing.
I was hired to replace a guy who had recently graduated from UCSD with a Degree in Cognitive Science – extremely bright, very affable and sharp as a tack, who was moving to a new position within the company.
I had big shoes to fill.
He also did me the favor of a lifetime.
He made sure I had everything he’d accumulated over his many years at that job – recorded on a CD. Over time I came to appreciate his generosity more and more. He literally saved my bacon multiple times.
So – why am I writing this article and what is the point?
When I was hired for this role, I took it seriously and I had a very professional approach towards learning my role, including my part in the software development process at that company.
Especially – how (what I did) impacted the ultimate end user. The customer.
I learned a few important lessons – one of them was: no matter how hard a software test engineer tries, you can’t test quality ‘into’ a product.
You can only reveal its flaws – so the CCB team can prioritize and select the defects to be fixed – and if you provide the appropriate information, the developers can reproduce the bug and fix it.
It literally takes the entire company to focus on Quality…if they want to find, capture and KEEP their customers. And remain in business.
It’s the organization’s focus on customer experience that makes the difference.
That team & that company I worked for really made a concerted effort to deliver high quality products – and for the most part they succeeded wonderfully.
Here’s what changed.
I left that position to start work as a Contractor – in order expand my horizons and become more valuable (and hire-able) over time by working in a variety of industries, and master new technologies and SDLC processes.
Working as a Contractor, and seeing how different companies (and teams) approach software development – was the greatest eye-opening experience of my professional life.
I was amazed at what I saw, and not all of it was a positive experience.
What I learned.
Most teams want to deliver high quality, reliable software applications – because that’s what they want to be known for…delivering products they’ll be extremely proud of.
It’s their reputation. They want to celebrate a success.
Unfortunately, software development doesn’t happen in a bubble.
It’s not static…nor is it executed in a perfect world.
Plus, the Market tends to get in the way.
Meaning – most companies spend the appropriate time to determine market needs (what their customers want) and they do their level best to deliver on a consistent basis. That’s what they’re paid for.
Then life intrudes.
- Key Clients review the MVP and start making new feature demands
- Core competitors signal delivery of a highly anticipated (better version) of the product
- Executives deliver extremely aggressive timelines with “keep the lights on” admonitions
- Everyone gets a little frenzied, drinks way too much coffee or monster drinks – and grinds it out
- In the process of beating those pesky deadlines and to ‘save time’ – corners are cut (a lot)
And mistakes are made.
They make the deadline only to discover – their worst fears have been realized.
Tech support phone lines start blowing up and those people start going insane.
Then, second level support plans kick in – if they were formalized to begin with.
Which means – calls are routed to the software test team, so they can dive in and help customers resolve the issues the tech support team couldn’t resolve. The well-known “workarounds” aren’t working.
Here’s where it gets fun – the combined efforts to get a client company’s system functioning (like it was before your latest product release or update) aren’t working, and as a software test engineer you soon realize you aren’t God.
So – third level support is called for – bring in the developers. (God)
This circus act continues for days and weeks – with the goal of keeping the customers we had before the latest release – so our competitors don’t rush in and scoop them up, because their products actually work.
Meanwhile R&D is trying to determine the root cause, including the best possible solution to this ugly problem.
How often does this occur? This one step forward and eight steps back process? More often than you’d like to believe.
What is the solution?
Putting quality processes in place, that really work…!
I discovered in the Medical Device/Biotech world – too many companies choose to be compliant, rather than adopt faithfulness to the ‘intent’ of the compliance.
They check the boxes – figuring they’ve provided what the FDA wants – and then move forward towards their ‘time to market’ goals. Oblivious to the damage they’re doing, one drip at a time, to their reputation and their client’s well-being.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What’s the solution?
If you adopt a solid quality process and work diligently to continually improve it over time (with faithfulness to the intent rather than to mere compliance) you’ll eventually conquer your market.
In fact – you’ll own it.
This gets to the root of why I started Advantu back in 2014 – after working in the Biotech/Medical Device realm for over 10 years.
It’s because of what I experienced after working on projects at multiple companies – most suffering from the same problems of rushing to meet aggressive deadlines and sacrificing (product quality and user needs) in the process.
I just Knew there had to be a better way.
And there is.
It’s called, building a quality organization – from stem to stern – with the entire organization focused on the customer’s needs.
Thinking out of the box.
I’ve been wildly fortunate by having the best minds in the Industry agree to support our mission; to help Biotech & Medical Device companies deliver world class products, on time, on a consistent basis.
We call it the Advantu Way.
We keep the end users in mind throughout the entire product development process. We ask ourselves; would we want our family members lives dependent upon these products in an emergency?
If the answer is ever no – we walk away.
But if the answer is yes – we make sure our approach guarantees consistent, high quality results for our clients. From QMS ‘A’ to Software Testing ‘Z’ – measure twice and cut once.
It’s how you build and deliver safe, reliable products your family members would trust.
Want more information?
(maybe chat with a Quality Process Expert)