Who’s Responsible For Ensuring Software Quality?

I’ve been leading software quality assurance for 20 years now and have a true passion for QA. Over this time, I have seen the SDLC change from Waterfall to Iterative to Agile or in many cases its more of a WaterGile process. Although the name of the SDLC and development domains change on a regular basis one thing remains constant, no one knows who should own the quality assurance function. 

“Although the name of the SDLC and development domains change on a regular basis one thing remains constant, no one knows who should own the quality assurance function.

In a recent ‘2016 State of Testing Report’, sponsored by PractiTest, it was reported that 37% of QA departments are currently reporting to Project Management or PMO’s, 29% report to Development Managers, 23% report to VP / Director of Quality, and 11% report to a CIO/CTO. That means there are 9% fewer QA departments reporting to VP/C-Levels than in 2015. These numbers should be alarming to everyone in QA. Another alarming trend is that there has been a 5% increase in QA departments reporting to development managers. How can you have an effective IV&V function with QA reporting to the same group they are validating? This just doesn’t make sense to me, would you really have the fox watching over the hen-house? Does anyone else see an issue with this?!?!?!?

Why does QA continue to be the ‘hot-potato’ that no one wants to hold onto for too long? I believe the answer is that since the pre-Y2K days QA has been struggling to find its identity. Everyone knows they need it but they don’t know how to optimize it and very few are ready to invest what is required to carry out a successful QA function.

I believe quality should be enabled from the top. In too many cases I’ve seen CIO’s push the responsibility of QA down the chain of command until it lands on someone’s desk that was probably late to the meeting. It’s time IT organizations focus and give significant value to a solid, implemented, tooled and processed QA function for their organizations. QA done right can be a revenue generator!  Yes, I said revenue generator.  By streamlining software testing with the right people, process and tools you will and can significantly reduce cost.  For every dollar you invest in QA you will see an ROI of $2 dollars.  If you are not investing at least 25%, industry average is 35%, for the QA part of your projects your cost and risk will exponentially increase.



Finding defects early in the analysis phase is on average @$100.  If these same defects are found in production you are looking at a cost of $10K.  Not to mention that only 16% of users will try a failing app more than twice.  Thus market share will be lost if your app is not working properly.  QA is not the fun, sexy part of software development.  It is a reminder that “stuff” can go wrong.  Maybe this mental block is why so many fail to focus on the software testing aspect of their projects.

How nice would it be for you to attend your next C-level company meeting and share that all your IT projects were on track, on budget, and delivered with no critical or major issues? I am proud to say that over the last 11 years I have ensured that every project we manage and lead has this proven track record.  I personally guarantee that it can and will be done with my team at the helm of your software testing projects!  It is my mission to disrupt the current QA market and give QA the strong voice it deserves, give QA the value and significance it deserves and to build solid QA foundations for our client’s success.

Noel Kierans Head ShotAbout the Author

Noel Kierans is the founder and CEO of Celtic Testing Experts, and has successfully managed testing efforts on hundreds of projects. He and the CTE team have implemented new QA practices where none existed before, and have extensive experience helping clients enhance and improve existing QA processes and procedures.

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