Why do we have so many meanings/interpretations/definitions of quality - A colleague of mine asked recently. I did not have any ready answer for him ... I said ... after a pause ... "There are so many ways to see the quality". Because, I think every one, whoever attempted to define quality (from Juran to Weinberg, ISO to CMMI), did so wearing a "user's" hat while they were not real users. It is like doing a role play temporarily - a third party view.
Michael Bolton mentioned this elegantly...
Quality is not an attribute of a thing or a thing (most of us believe that is in a thing). It is a relationship between the user and the product.
So extending Michael’s view point - quality is a two way and intimate relationship between the user and product. There is no room for third party.
So as a third party everyone can come up with "possible" meanings of the term quality.
The moment we understand that it is relationship on a timescale (perception of quality does change over time) not something built into the thing ... we will be good. Beware a notion of good quality does not alway remain so .... as time changes so does the perception about quality in the minds of the beholder.
What does this mean to we, testers?
- As testers we do a third party assessment of (to best of our abilities) the relation ship between a product and it's anticipated user base.
- Things like fast, great UI, cheap, reliable are only manifestations of relationship between user and product - not real things or attributes about quality.
- Quality is observer dependent - quality can be viewed always and only viewed from the eyes of the user's frame of reference
- User's taste, perception of quality for a product changes. Hence there can not be any "one-time", "fits all size" kind of testing/assessment for a product (more so .. if it a software product)
Who is next in the line with a definition of quality?