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Words Has Meanings: QA

Words matter. Words are the way we transfer ideas from person to person. Shared words do not guarantee shared understanding. I understand 4 languages and I try to understand 4+ cultures. Time to time I experience situations where I cannot express myself in none of the languages and my motives are misunderstood in all the cultures. At the moment I try to help my son with his Latin studies, it means I am kind of studying it as well. And it is quite fun because grammar is very similar to Latvian, but words to English and/or Italian.

You may wonder why I am writing about languages and what it has to do with quality assurance (QA)? You see, I really like quality assurance in software. I am very into processes, responsibility about the software and improving quality of an end product. If I would need to name one thing what I am good at, it would be seeing links/ matches/ connections. When I see a bug in the software, I see that it comes from a bug in the process. You can fix the bug in the software, then write and maintain 10 regression checks to get information when it happens again, but for me, more sense is to fix the bug in the process which caused the bug in the software.

One illustrative example. Imagine bakery. Good recipe does not guarantee tasty cake. Bad recipe does not mean that a cake will not taste. Testing in all this is trying the cake – quality should be baked in, if it is not in there, for this particular cake you can not change (improve) the quality. QA in bakery would be observing processes, identifying bottlenecks, questioning actions in place, analysing end products, which does not meet quality standards, with an aim to find a source, talking to customers and then decide what to do – to improve a recipe, approach, method, marketing or selling strategy. Another thing, I hope you all agree with me on this: if we call a bread as a cake, it is still a bread.

I really like to work efficiently and remove a cause instead of effects, so I applied for jobs with title “QA Manager”, “Head of QA” etc, but always at the end, thing, I was asked to do, was software testing. Don’t understand me wrong, I have nothing against software testing, I think it is great method to collect information about a software. But I kept wondered why companies and clients use “quality assurance” incorrectly. I broke it down and asked people what “quality” means to them and how they measure it; mostly got no answers and puzzled looks. How you can assure something you cannot describe and do not know how to measure? So I came up with this idea:
a) that they do not know about QA as a discipline;
b) it is some kind of strategic game played by companies: let’s put “QA” in our job openings and use the word “quality” few times on our website, then our customers will think that we care about it!

Let me tell you this – you can add sugar coating and glitters to your pastries, but everyone, who will eat it, will see that it is bread and not a cake.  If you call a bread as a cake, it is still a bread, right?

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2 thoughts on “Words Has Meanings: QA

  1. Kristīne on said:

    I do watch DVD and I like to watch movies in different languages. I also like to read a book in original and translation and to compare them. Some years ago I worked for company who’s product was based on linguistic components – that was pure fun for me.

  2. You talk about seeing connections; well, having abilities in more than one language – especially when they are part of the same language group – also means that you see connections, one language to another. Next time you watch a DVD (if you still do watch DVDs! :-) ), sit through the copyright statements at the end and see how many languages you can a) identify, and b) understand. You may be surprised.

    I’m beginning to think that having another language is one of the attributes of a good tester.