Improving product quality management – table of contents:
What is product quality management?
Product quality management is often associated with testing and fixing errors. However, it is worth looking at it from a broader perspective and treating it as a product strategy that aims to ensure continuity in delivering the quality that meets customers’ expectations and brings them value. A company that is famous for applying this approach is Toyota. Excellence in quality management contributes to building their reputation as a manufacturer of reliable cars. But how to transfer the experience from a physical product to a digital one and manage its quality?
Quality assurance vs quality control
In the realm of product quality management, these two terms often appear together. But what do they really mean? Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) are two sides of the same coin, and each of them plays a key role in achieving the highest product quality.
- Quality assurance (QA) of a digital product – encompasses a range of activities to make sure the product development process is efficient and effective. In the case of software, QA can involve code reviews to check if it follows coding standards and best practices. It may also include thorough testing of new prototype features from the user’s perspective, which allows companies to assess whether beta versions of programs or applications are understandable and user-friendly.
- Quality control (QC) of a digital product – focuses on identifying and fixing bugs in a market-ready product. In the case of a mobile app, QC may include testing the app on various devices to make sure it works properly.
The difference between QA and QC can be illustrated with an example of the cookie manufacturing process. QA is planning the recipe, selecting ingredients, setting up appropriate baking procedures, and trying different variations of the recipe. QC, on the other hand, is tasting the ready cookies that are about to hit the stores and checking if they taste as they should.
Methods and tools for enhancing product quality management
When striving for excellence in product quality, it is essential to equip yourself with the right tools. Depending on what area needs improvement or quality checking, the following methods can become your allies in this important mission.
- Total quality management (TQM) – a holistic approach to quality management that involves engaging all members of an organization in the process to improve the quality of products and services. In practice, TQM may include regular team meetings to discuss ways to enhance quality. For example, Motorola used TQM to significantly reduce defects in its products. In the context of a digital product, a software development company might employ TQM to minimize errors in its application.
- Failure testing – the process of testing a product under extreme conditions to identify its weak points. In practice, this may mean testing an application under various network conditions to see how it handles connection interruptions. Smartphone manufacturers often conduct drop tests to evaluate the reliability and durability of their devices. For a digital product, such as an online game, failure analysis may encompass testing servers under load to see how they handle large numbers of players.
- Process and product quality assurance (PPQA) – includes monitoring processes to ensure they adhere to plans and procedures, and identifying quality problems. PPQA in software development may involve reviewing and testing source code to make sure it meets specific quality standards. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, PPQA is key to ensuring that drugs are produced in accordance with the strictest standards. In the case of a digital product, such as a mobile app, PPQA may encompass monitoring the development process to ensure that it meets user expectations and quality standards.
Roles and responsibilities in product quality management
Selecting the right quality assurance methods is just as important as choosing quality specialists. Therefore, these two roles will be important:
- Quality assurance specialist – responsible for monitoring and documenting the quality of the production process. A quality assurance specialist at a software house may be in charge of testing and reviewing code to make sure it meets specific standards. For example, at a smartphone company, a quality assurance specialist might monitor the assembly process to ensure that all components are properly installed. In the case of a digital product, such as a financial management app, a quality assurance specialist may monitor the quality of the application’s code and functionality.
- Quality manager – supervises QA and QC teams, ensuring that the right standards and procedures are followed. At a software development company, quality managers may be responsible for setting quality standards and overseeing the team’s compliance with them. In the food industry, a quality manager may oversee the packaging process to ensure that products are properly protected from contamination. In the case of a digital product, such as an e-commerce platform, a quality manager may oversee the quality of the site’s user interface and its functionality.
Even in a small organization, it is worth entrusting the quality ownership to one person as, with a holistic approach, it may turn out that everyone is responsible for the quality of the product. That is, no one.
Best practices for QA testing
Testing is an inseparable part of the quality assurance process for a digital product. QA testing usually includes:
- Test planning – setting goals and developing QA strategies. For example, before releasing a new computer game, a team might decide what types of tests will be most effective in identifying bugs.
- Test design – creating test cases and procedures. In the case of a banking application, this may be creating scenarios where the user tries to make a transaction.
- Test execution – executing the planned test cases. For example, testers can use various web browsers to see how a website performs.
- Defect tracking – documenting test results and any encountered issues.
- Test analysis – analyzing test results and making improvements. For example, if the tests have shown that a mobile app crashes on certain devices, the development team will try to resolve the issue.
QA testing plays a key role in ensuring that a program or application is bug-free and meets user expectations.
Practical tips for budding entrepreneurs
For fledgling entrepreneurs, product quality management may be one of the toughest challenges. Here are some helpful tips:
- Understand and identify quality standards that are important to your customers. For example, if you run a restaurant, the quality of the ingredients and the taste of the dishes can be essential to your customers.
- Invest in training and tools to help your team monitor quality. For example, food safety training can be crucial for restaurants.
- Collect customer feedback regularly to learn what needs fixing. For example, customer satisfaction surveys can help you understand what customers like and what can be improved.
- Feel free to experiment with new methods and tools that can help you achieve higher quality.
Product quality management is an ongoing process. This is why it is so important to create a culture that values quality and strives for continuous improvement, rather than define strict rules that will not be followed.
Product quality management – summary
Product quality management is not just a set of tools and procedures. It’s a culture, a philosophy, and a commitment to creating that excellence. From understanding the difference between quality assurance and quality control to using the right methods and tools, quality management is critical to the success of your digital product. In a world where customers have countless options, product quality can be what sets your company apart and earns it a top position.
- Intro to product management
- What is the role of a product manager?
- Why is product lifecycle management important?
- How to build an efficient product strategy?
- OKRs vs SMART goals. Which framework drives better results?
- How to define a value proposition?
- Identifying customer needs and market segmentation
- Crafting a winning product concept. Techniques and steps
- Gaining an edge with an effective product roadmap
- Prototyping your digital product
- How to build an MVP?
- MVP vs MMP vs MMF. Key milestones in product development
- Mastering hypothesis testing
- Proven methods for improving product quality management
- Strategies and tactics for a successful product launch
- Driving profitability through product optimization
- Measuring product success
- How to price a product? The most popular pricing strategies
- The future of product design. Top trends and predictions
- When to retire a product? Key factors influencing EOL decisions
- Agile in product management
- Scrum and Kanban in product management.
- What is lean product management?
- Jobs to be Done. Creating products that customers truly need
- What is growth hacking?
- What is data-driven product management?
- A/B testing in product management
- Useful product management templates. Where to find them?
- Strategyzer tools in product management
- 5 useful product management tools
- How to create and manage product documentation?
- 6 essential tools for product managers
- How to use AI in product management