Key Takeaways for Elevating Digital Quality
From our blog / Article
The "Elevating Digital Quality" event, held on November 7, 2023, brought together experts in managing quality and leading organizations to share insights and ideas on how to build world-class digital quality in any organization. Read the key takeaways how to elevate digital quality and gear your business toward success.
The task of building great software seems to be getting harder by the day. Consider that in the early 90s, a software engineer for a major bank could develop and maintain a significant portion of a critical core system at his own leisure while releases came out twice a year. Compare that to today, where developers create daily builds for several platforms in a technology landscape that is moving at a break-neck speed. The complexity of software is just too great for a single human to stay on top of everything. In this reality it’s safe to say that, at some point in time, some things are bound to be overlooked.
If we accept that mistakes will eventually happen, the next question is: how do we prepare for this eventuality? How do we ensure that our end product is of great quality for everyone despite these bumps in the road? These are million-dollar questions that, paradoxically, aren’t often even consciously considered in development organizations. Or even if they are, there exists a striking gap between planning and daily execution.
Alas, the answers to quality issues are always case-dependent. As approaches can vary across industries, we were curious to learn how these things were perceived by people in the development scene. There aren’t too many public forums focusing on this, so we decided to create our own – Fusion joined forces with Hidden Trail, Polar Squad and SOK to host “Elevating Digital Quality” on November 7th at Reaktor HQ.
Our agenda was to provide a spread of views on digital quality leadership for business leaders who are responsible for leading and managing software quality. The event kicked off at 8:30am with an indulgent breakfast to set the mood for the upcoming talks. After a half hour of mingling over breakfast and coffee, the attendees were ushered into the auditorium for the day’s main event.
Exploring Quality: Three Perspectives
The event was hosted by Sarita Runeberg, CEO of Maria01, a Nordic startup hub based in Helsinki. With Sarita’s welcome, each of the event’s three speakers took their turn on the stage and covered different facets of quality in software development.
Marko Rytkönen from Hidden Trail kickstarted the talks by highlighting the essence of quality – in his definition, it provides subjective value, to a person who matters, at a given time. Marko emphasized how quality is not an afterthought but should be built into the very fabric of an organization’s processes and culture. Marko’s presentation set the tone for the event by considering quality via product, team, and organization levels; leadership is accountable for the last two. Any definition of quality has a large impact on all of these three levels, and the work to make it happen requires preventive, reactive, and passive approaches.
“If you take care of quality, the quality will take care of your business”.
Next up was Niko Kivelä from SOK, a Finnish retail giant. Niko shared his view on the evolution of DevOps, emphasizing its transformation into a human-centered solution focused on speed and efficiency. His argument was that:
“To properly lead quality, one needs visibility first to know what’s happening.”
His team had achieved this by integrating DevOps practices to empower teams for constant quality enhancement. By monitoring carefully chosen, quantifiable metrics, the resulting signals could be leveraged to observe which direction the team in question was headed. The key was continuous quality, not hitting static targets. “We use self-assessments to always ask: are we improving or not?”
Finally, Heini Ilmarinen from Polar Squad tackled the common issue of failing to deliver quality software despite people’s best intentions. Her presentation scrutinized the various reasons behind such failures, ranging from miscommunication to an unavailability of information. Her candid exploration of this topic stressed the importance of constant feedback and interaction to focus on the things that matter.
“Don’t do quality just for the sake of quality”.
The morning’s presentations were bookended by a panel discussion, where attendees had the opportunity to interact with the speakers. The panel allowed for a deeper exploration of the presentation topics and gave attendees a chance to offer their own experience-based views. This exchange of ideas proved to be a highlight of the event, as the heated discussion had to be cut short as the official proceedings drew to a close.
Key Takeaways for Elevating Digital Quality
All in all, the event produced a flurry of thoughts on digital quality leadership. Of the insights offered by our speakers, we condensed three practical takeaways for leaders to consider when thinking about their organization’s quality context:
- Quality does not happen by accident, it is always the result of intelligent effort. To start, establish a common understanding of essential quality attributes within your organization. Seek external perspectives to drive change and avoid biases.
- Quality is unique, as its definition depends on the organization’s culture, history, context, and values. Rather than thinking about quality as some static goal to hit, view it as a continuous process. The people involved need to regularly assess whether they are improving or not.
- You will not create quality products, if you do not have quality people and tools. Leaders can and must remove roadblocks for quality work and foster effective communication in order to create an environment of trust and transparency. When everyone feels they can make an impact, remarkable things start to happen.
In conclusion, we consider “Elevating Digital Quality” a success, as the feedback from attendees was enthusiastic: “These types of events should be held more often, exchanging thoughts and meeting with new and old colleagues face-to-face is always inspiring!”, expressed one participant. The event’s engaged atmosphere left attendees with fresh insights to take back to their respective organizations along with new contacts (and a belly full of great food). Thank you for attending, we look forward to providing similar events in the future!
Want to discuss more about elevating digital quality in your organization? Reach out to Hidden Trail and you are on your way to success.
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