What is quality?
Before we take you through quality and product ownership, let’s see what you know.
In your journal or digital notepad, write down:
-Your definition of quality
-Why you think quality is important to a Product Owner
What is quality?
Gauging quality is the process of defining whether something is fit for purpose. This should mean that a product meets its requirements and stated or implied needs. If we take an Agile approach, often quality is about ensuring that a product is ‘just good enough’ or meets the ‘definition of done’. We will cover definition of done later in this resource.
A Product Owner would define quality by whether a product meets its functional and non-functional requirements. Let’s take a look at what these two types of requirements consist of.
Functional and non-functional requirements
Functional requirements (FRs) outline what a product or service should do. The functional requirements are usually defined in a product or project's acceptance criteria. They are written as simple statements detailing what a system or feature should be able to do.
If functional requirements define what a product has to do, non-functional requirements (NFR) define how the system should do it.
Typically, they are performance related. Non-functional requirements in Agile are documented as constraints in the backlog. If they are specific to a story, then they can also be written into the acceptance criteria.
Let’s take the example of a brand new, ultra-light, ultra-breathable piece of track wear. It helps to keep you cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. There’s just one problem: it only comes in beige. How many people would buy beige gear? Your product could be the best in the business, and if it doesn’t look or feel right, it would get the exposure it deserves.
Two ways of maintaining quality are in the process and in the solution.
Process quality and solution quality
Agile teams and their Product Owners should be aware of two types of quality.
The first is solution quality, a fancy term for having a quality product or service you’re developing. Agile teams work iteratively and incrementally to improve the product, and for as long as the product exists, it should have a healthy backlog of improvements. It should be the case that your product is regularly inspected and adapted for improvements, thus improving your solution quality.
The second type of quality is process quality. A Product Owner is a key part of any plans in place for improving development processes. This process refers to the team's way of working. The team process, like the product, is regularly reviewed for opportunities for improvement.
As part of Scrum, a regular Retro event is conducted by the team to inspect their process. A shortlist of realistic improvements is drawn up and the team then decides if it should be included as work in the next sprint. This improvement is then reviewed at the next Retro and further improvements suggested.
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