Last week Phil Libin, the CEO of Evernote, wrote an honest blog article titled “On Software Quality and Building a Better Evernote in 2014.” It was in response to an initial blog article by Jason Kinkaid which criticized Evernote for a decline in quality over the last few months. In the response, Lubin accepted the criticism well and publically vowed changes to their software in 2014. Lubin explained how, as a startup, the focus on growing fast had the unfortunate side effect of introducing more bugs and ultimately affecting quality and user experience. He discussed how constant improvement is key, trading the rush of releasing new product versions for more thorough testing, how software quality must be engrained in culture, and that quality improvements need to be shown rather than just discussed.
This story brings to light the importance of software quality, not just with updated tools for testing and measurement but to also empower the culture of an organization to always focus on software quality and customer experience. In a recent CISQ Tech Roundtable on Software Robustness and Resiliency in Capital Markets a senior IT executive in the financial services industry also brought up the importance of culture to drive software quality, even going so far as to discuss ways to transform an organization to respect, monitor, and act on software quality metrics.
In the world of startups, being a fast mover is key given the ease with which businesses can get up and running anywhere around the world. That works to grab an initial flood of customers. But, if attention to the customer experience is ignored, then your rate of churn will be just as high. The charter of CISQ, as a neutral and open forum, has always been to push for industry-wide computable metrics standards that measure software quality and size for improving IT application quality which in turn reduces cost and risk. These standards focus not only on functional sizing and functional requirements, but also on the important non-functional ones such as performance and reliability.
I invite all software organizations, from startups to enterprise, to take a look at the standards we have released and are currently working on. Moreover, the experience that you all have gained would be invaluable in helping to move the IT software quality cause further forward.