On a scale of fist to five, I’m at a ten.

(This is lightly re-edited version of a post from 2016 — I have been on planes for two days going hither and yon, therefore, we are revisiting quality.)

Quality is partly about the number of defects delivered in a piece of software and partly about how the stakeholders and customers experience the software.  Experience is typically measured as customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectations. Customer satisfaction is impacted by all three aspects of software quality: functional (what the software does), structural (whether the software meets standards) and process (how the code was built).

Surveys can be used to collect customer- and team-level data.  Satisfaction is used to measure if products, services, behaviors or work environment meets expectations. 

  1. Asking the question, “are you happy (or some variant of the word happy) with the results of XYZ project?” is an assessment of satisfaction. The answer to that simple question will indicate whether the people you are asking are “happy”, or whether you need to ask more questions.  Asking is a powerful tool and can be as simple as asking a single question to a team or group of customers or as complicated using multifactor surveys. Even though just asking whether someone is satisfied and then listening to the answer can provide powerful information, the size of projects or the complexity of the software being delivered often dictates a more formal approach, which means that surveys are often used to collect satisfaction data.  Product or customer satisfaction is typically measured after a release or on a periodic basis.
    Fist to Five is a simple asking technique. Agile teams measure team level satisfaction using simple techniques such as Fist-to-Five.  Team members are asked to vote on how satisfied they are by flashing a number of fingers all at the same time.  Showing five fingers means you are very satisfied and a fist (no fingers) is unsatisfied.  This form of measurement can be used to assess team satisfaction on a daily basis. Here is a  simple video explanation. I generally post an average score on the wall in the team room in order to track the team’s satisfaction trend.
  2. The Net Promoter metric is a more advanced form of a customer satisfaction measure than simply asking, but less complicated than the multifactor indexes that are sometimes generated. Promoters are people who are so satisfied that they will actively spread knowledge to others. Generating the metric begins by asking “how likely you are to recommend the product or organization being measured to a friend or colleague?” I have seen many variants of the net promoter question, but at the heart of it the question is whether the respondent will recommend the service, product, team or organization.  The response is scored using a scale from 1 – 10.  Answers of 10 or 9 represent promoters, 7 or 8 are neutral and all other answers represent detractors. The score is calculated using the following formula: (# of Promoters — # of Detractors) / (Total Promoters + Neutral + Detractors) x 100.   If 10 people responded to a net promoter question and 5 where promoters, 3 neutral and 2 detractors the net promoter score is 30 (5 -2 /10 *100). Over time the goal is to improve the net promoter score, which will increase the chance your work will be recommended.

Software quality is a nuanced concept that reflects many factors, some of which are functional, structural or process related. Satisfaction is a reflection of quality from a different perspective than measuring defects or code structure. The essence of customer satisfaction is a very simple question: Are you happy with what we delivered? Knowing if the team, stakeholders, and customers are happy with what was delivered or the path that was taken to get to that delivery is often just as important as knowing the number of defects that were delivered.

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SPaMCAST 515 features our essay on transformation and agile metrics. Whether you like the word transformation or not, many in the process improvement and agile communities help to facilitate change. Involvement in any non-trivial change effort requires resources, people, support and the expenditure of political capital. Metrics are a tool for getting the people and resources you need.

We also feature a visit from the Software Sensi.  Mr. Pries weights in on defining “what is quality”.  Kim mixes theory and practice to make a profound statement.

Anchoring the cast this week is Gene Hughson.  Gene writes at the Form Follows Function blog. This week we talk about a piece titled, Dependency Management – Anti-Patterns as Art from The Daily WTF.  It really is art —  but really a visualization of anti-patterns at the same time.

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we conclude our re-read of The Checklist Manifesto with a few final thoughts and notes and a restatement of a checklist for a checklist that Stephen Adams contributed in the comments for Chapter 9 – they deserve more exposure.  

This is an excellent book that is very useful for anyone involved in worrying about whether work is done consistently.  My punchline, “try using a checklist because they make sure our actions matter.” I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do.  

Next week we will lay out the plan for our read of Bad Blood (buy your copy today https://amzn.to/2zTEgPq  and support the blog and the author).  Bad Blood is a new book for me, therefore a “read” rather than a re-read.

All of the entries for our re-read of the Checklist Manifesto:

Week 11 – Concluding Noteshttps://bit.ly/2BZubSG (more…)

A count of the Pokemon in my local park yesterday!

In today’s complex software development environment, it is easy to see every data collection issue as a complex automation problem. For example, I recently had a discussion with a team that is trying to determine how they would know whether a coding standard change they were contemplating would be effective. The team proposed capturing defects the coder/developer pairs found in TFS. The plan was to enter each defect found into the tool. After a discussion, the team decided to adopt a much simpler data collection solution with very low overhead. One of the classic quality tools is a tally sheet or check sheet. A check sheet is a form that used to collect information as it happens as a set of checkmarks or tally marks on the form. Check sheets are a very simple data collection tool. They are often a great way to pilot data collection before spending time and effort on automation or adding overhead to work. A check sheet is a form of the histogram where data where data collection and categorization occurs at the same time as visualization. (more…)

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Software Process and Measurement Cast 491 features our essay titled, Can “Done” Be Allowed To Break Production?  The most succinct answer to the question is always no, the story is not done. The reason is that the story is not implementable, and unless the goal of the story is to blow up production and anger customers it can’t be considered to be done.

Susan Parente brings her Not a Scrumdamentalist column to the cast this week.  Susan discusses Kanban for You and Me.  The discussion focuses on personal Kanban and how to use it to guide your day to day activities effectively and efficiently.

Kim Pries, the Software Sensi, anchors the cast this week.  Kim’s essay is titled Real Software Quality.  In this column, Kim warns us of the dangers of interventionism on quality.

Re-Read Saturday News

In week six of the re-read of L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around! we tackle chapter 7, titled I Relieve You. I am breaking the two chapter pattern to layup so that we can have a clean start the second part of the book next week Chapter Seven completes Part One of the book.  Part one serves tells the story of how Captain Marquet came to be in command of the USSN Santa Fe rather than the Olympia. Much of Marquet’s leadership model was emergent (like design in agile). Change may occur even without a shock like Marquet’s reassignment, but adding energy will hasten change. In this case, the shock made the development of Marquet’s leadership model inevitable.

Current Installment:

Week 6: I Relieve Youhttps://bit.ly/2F7C5ag

Previous Installments: (more…)

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SPaMCAST 488 features our interview with Prem Ranganath. Prem and I discussed why organizations need to focus on innovation and excellence.  The topic might sound trite; however, making innovation and excellence happen is hard. Prem provides examples and advice from the real world.

Prem is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive quality strategy for product engineering covering people, process, tools and an enabling culture at Trilliant Networks.  Prem takes an intrapreneurial approach to empowering Trilliant’s customers by enabling lean, agile solution delivery and a culture of quality. He enjoys working with teams to solve problems using design thinking and experimentation.

In 2017, Prem was the Capability Challenge champion and is a member of ASQ’s Influential Voices program. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 470 features the return of Ben Linders. Ben and I discussed his new book, What Drives Quality.  Quality is something we all want and is required by our customers and clients BUT determining how we get quality is not easy!  We explored the definition of quality, who owns quality and what teams can do to deliver quality.  If you are into excellence in value delivery, this interview will inform and delight you.

Ben’s Bio:

Ben Linders is an Independent Consultant in Agile, Lean, Quality, and Continuous Improvement, based in The Netherlands. Author of Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives, Waardevolle Agile Retrospectives, What Drives Quality and Continuous Improvement. Ben is the creator of the Agile Self-assessment Game.

As an adviser, coach and trainer he helps organizations with deploying effective software development and management practices. He focuses on continuous improvement, collaboration and communication, and professional development, to deliver business value to customers.

Ben is an active member of networks on Agile, Lean, and Quality, and a well known speaker and author. He shares his experiences in a bilingual blog (Dutch and English), as an editor for Culture and Methods at InfoQ, and as an expert in communities like Computable, Quora, DZone, and TechTarget. Follow him on twitter: @BenLinders.

My Upcoming Appearances (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 442 features our essay on capability teams. The use of teams to deliver business value is at the core of most business models.  Capability teams are a tool to unlock the value delivery engine of teams.

Gene Hughson brings his Form Follows Function Blog to the cast this week to discuss his recent blog entry titled, Systems of Social Systems and the Software Systems They Create. We live in a complex world and just focusing on social systems or software systems misses the point!

Our third column is from the Software Sensei, Kim Pries.  The entry this week is titled, Software Quality and the Art of Skateboard Maintenance. This entry is an homage to Robert M. Pirsig the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, who recently died.

Re-Read Saturday News

And welcome back!  For those who are interested, The Frederick Half Marathon last weekend was great.  I met my goals: I crossed the finish line, collected my medal and got to hang out with my family in Frederick.  This week, we begin Part Two of Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World by Brian J. Robertson published by Henry Holt and Company in 2015.  Part Two is titled Evolution At Play: Practicing Holacracy.  In my opinion, Part Two provides readers with the nuts and bolts needed to use Holacracy.  Chapter 4, titled Governance, takes all of the building blocks from previous chapters and starts to weave them together. (more…)