Discover what software, which forms as an essential part of every modern business, can learn from Toyota’s emphasis on quality.
Popularly considered as the blueprint for modern manufacturing, the methods and practices developed and perfected by Toyota are followed by manufacturers world over. Toyota Production System, which became synonymous with quality, gave the world the formulae that business leaders and manufacturing experts consider infallible and worthy of emulation.
Heijunka component planning and management, Kaizen continuous improvement, Jidoka problem detection system, Genchi Genbutsu check-it-yourself approach to problem solving, and just-in-time manufacturing, are some of the several fail-safe systems that Toyota developed to produce high quality vehicles.
When a manufacturer improves its process to an extent to offer it as a sustained competitive advantage, its Toyota moment is said to have arrived. Such a company nearly turns its (continuously evolving) manufacturing process into an asset that delivers recurring returns for a considerably long period of time.
Relevance to software
Something similar may happen even in case of software. Generally, software is seen more of a business enabler and maintaining its quality a hygiene. However, today, software has become an essential part of the core business nearly for every organization. In effect, quality of software determines the quality of service or product that an organization offers.
Due to the critical role played by software in every business, a company must ensure the software it uses is of high quality. However, it is not just about quality control. Quality control cannot inherently improve product quality to take an organization to the next level. Like Toyota, which went to the extent of improving and modernizing the infrastructure, systems, and processes of its suppliers, a true competitive advantage can be built through quality engineering.
Revisiting the code
A few significant trends are necessitating a renewed focus on software quality engineering. A massive growth in digital has mandated that organizations invest heavily in creating and impeccably maintaining customer service touch points across online, social, and mobile channels. Secondly, unlike in the past, the pace of the issuance of versions and updates has increased phenomenally. With customers becoming digitally empowered and demanding, the quality of service and user experience has become monumentally important for every organization.
Software needs to work in a dynamically changing environment including multiple network types, digital channels, devices, and OS platforms, making continuous product improvement a must for every organization today. Quality engineering mandates merging and running in parallel the activities of software quality testing and monitoring. Such merger can help organizations ensure continuous quality improvement of their products.
The test drive
Quality of the software determines the quality of experience a brand is able to create for its customers. A real test of quality occurs when the rubber meets the road. Quality of software can, therefore, be said to have been put to real test in production environment. Today’s consumers are exposed to the speed of Google’s products, wide choice offered by Amazon, Flipkart and eBay, interactive experience delivered by facebook and WhatsApp, and the convenience assured by of Uber and Ola.
Consumers expect the same level of service quality and usage-experience from their banks, insurers, automobile companies, or any other business. A slight dip in consumers’ brand-experience may cause instant negative publicity for the brand on social media channels. Quality assurance testing, as a result, plays a crucial role, not just before a software product going live but also after its launch.
Lastly, quality assurance, to be effective, also needs to go hand-in-hand with top-class customer service policies (and their effective execution) by the organization. For instance, if a bank contacts a customer immediately when the customer experiences some technical glitch, and assures to resolve the issue within a stipulated time-frame, the customer may show willingness to wait patiently. If the bank, going a step ahead, offers some free service as a token of appreciation for the customer’s cooperation, it may just create a lifetime bonding with that customer.
By Maneesh Jhawar, CEO and Founder, QualityKiosk