Quality in Agile... Where is it?

The word ‘quality’ is not in the Agile Manifesto.Quality is not only implied, it’s integral to the values or principles of the Agile Manifesto.

Agile methods focus on satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of business value.  (Principle #1)

Could a product (or service) be considered valuable by a customer if the product did not have quality?

Do customers not care if what they buy works like they hoped?  Do customers not care if what they buy from you to lasts or is reliable?

If we do not produce value to our customer we are not long for being in the market as customers will vote by not choosing to use their money on things they do not value.

Quality is synonymous with value.

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. (Principle #9)    

What does this mean?

  • What was the quality of your last build? How soon after your last release do you have to send a patch release?
  • How much technical debt do you have? Technical debt being the difference between the optimal cost of changing the product and actual cost to change the product.
  • How much of your time is spent keeping the lights on and fighting fires vs innovating and building new products (or services) to respond to market changes or competitive threats?
  • Do you work just to ‘make the date’ or deadline knowing full well you probably should have built it better … but will ‘get to it later’?

Can continuous attention to technical excellence and good design exist without a focus on quality?

Quality is the foundation of technical excellence and good design. Quality is the focus and is the starting point for us to pay attention to removing our existing technical debt and preventing it going forward.

Agile teams support the product (or service) they build.  How do you think knowing they will be the ones who get the call should anything go wrong impacts how they build it?  It enforces building the right product, and building the product ‘right’.  Who better to fix an issue than the people who built it?  They can fix it faster and can take their learnings forward to incorporate in going forward preventing the issue from occurring again.

Quality is integral to Agility.  When Agile teams believe and practice Agile Values and principles, it means quality is ‘understood’ and does not need mentioning.