Rapidly changing technology, increasingly high consumer expectations, and competitors popping up at a global scale are all very real and very difficult challenges to overcome for modern businesses.
Staying ahead of these challenges requires efficiency, flexibility, and scalability like never before. That's why terms like "built-in code quality" are getting tossed around a lot more frequently.
The concept of built-in code quality helps support speedy and effective software development by making quality everyone's responsibility.
Instead of working fast and checking that work later, only to discover errors that will create delays, built-in code quality focuses on ensuring constant adherence to quality coding standards.
Here's why it's important and how it can reduce technical debt.
American engineer William Edwards Deming is remembered for having shared wisdom that guided the creation of early development processes and principles. He once asserted;
"Inspection does not improve the quality, nor guarantee quality. Inspection is too late. The quality, good or bad, is already in the product. Quality cannot be inspected into a product or service; it must be built into it.”
This quote provides an excellent foundation for explaining why built-in code quality matters. In the absence of built-in quality measures, development teams have no choice but to work in a multi-step process.
Code is written for a given period, then that code is sent off for inspection or a "quality review." Only during that code review will issues be discovered, and those issues then must be fixed. Once they're fixed, the code has to be inspected yet again, and the development life cycle repeats.
The value of built-in quality measures is gained simply by continuously paying attention to quality standards, developers save time. There are fewer recalls and less reworking.
As the code is written, it is being held to the highest of design standards, ensuring technical excellence while keeping projects on track.
Whereas the multi-step method represents reactive quality management, built-in checks allow for proactive quality management.
Thanks to its positive outcomes, built-in quality has been adopted by the Lean Framework, the Agile framework, the DevOps practice of continuous integration (CI), and is listed as a SAFe Core Value.
Whether you follow one of these frameworks, or you've been thinking about it, Adservio can help you make sure you're on the right track.
Through our digital empowerment services, we provide coaching, training, and labs to help individuals and companies get the right knowledge and skill set for creating strategies to get them the results they want.
As a result of preventing as many errors as possible, and catching all other errors as early in the process as possible, companies enjoy a range of benefits.
The first and most obvious is rooted in the fact that problems are no longer being "passed along" from one phase to the next, either knowingly or unknowingly.
Once you establish built-in quality principles, all issues will be addressed at the stage they were created or discovered, preventing wasted resources.
What's more, with developers focused on doing their best work the first time, you'll see a great decline in avoidable issues. Likewise, the team will spend far less time inspecting, rejecting, and revising code, speeding up production and capacity.
All in all, these benefits represent faster time to delivery and lower production costs, both creating a bigger profit margin. The question is, how do you achieve built-in code quality? Unfortunately, it's not something that can be achieved with tools or software alone.
If you're pursuing built-in code quality, realize that it's not an isolated activity. Our digital quality experts here at Adservio can help you put together the puzzle pieces of security, testing, and automation so you can achieve built-in code quality and all of its benefits.
Technology continues to find its way into the development workflow with attempts to support teams in discovering problems early on, like through code analysis tools that can identify code quality issues.
However, such code review tools can generate false positives and they aren't 100% reliable, in addition, by the time a tool gets around to spot an error, it might not be helpful in creating built-in quality.
While a tool can ensure higher quality code, it's a reactive approach. Real-time code quality analysis is a step in the right direction, but it's still not enough.
Built-in code quality strives to be proactive, preventing mistakes before they're made (or, at least, before they make it into the compiler and into the codebase).
Errors will always happen, but the idea behind built-in quality is that most can be avoided. In doing so, teams also avoid the back-and-forth processes involved in finding, reporting, and resolving errors.
So, what makes built-in code quality possible?
It comes down to attitude.
With the right company culture, built-in quality almost comes about as a side effect. For instance, those adopting the Lean framework will uphold a culture where employees focus on offering value in everything they do; removing wasteful steps and optimizing processes; and working in small batches.
All of these things help support the efficient development of quality code that has fewer errors and defects from the get-go.
That's what makes built-in quality possible: With a good development environment, teams can routinely produce good code. Once those principles are in place, the right practices will help enforce (and reinforce) them as time goes by.
Creating a company culture that's passionate about offering value, reducing waste, and maintaining quality at every turn is not easy, but it is the first step towards achieving built-in quality.
From there, managers need to make sure that this mindset is being supported by the actual development workflow.
For instance, culture deems that developers will not consciously produce defective code. Meanwhile, a policy will ensure that they never move defective code to the next phase in the process.
The former ensures that developers do things right the first time, and the latter ensures that they're checking their work to minimize process waste.
More specific policies should also be created to offer a standard definition of what "quality" looks like to your company.
Likewise, you should clearly define work processes. In order for built-in code quality to work, developers must know what is expected of them. Communicating expectations, and talking to teams when they fall short, will help make built-in quality possible.
Some other policies can also be implemented to help enforce built-in code quality, but remember that these policies on their own (i.e., without the right culture to back them) will not do much.
Likewise, without the right leadership in place that's willing to take suggestions and implement changes as the need arises, built-in quality goals will seem unachievable.
As time goes on, the right analytics will help you track the effectiveness of your policies. Our digital analytics experts can help you find the right metrics, track them accurately, and put them to work for your business.
The benefits of built-in code quality are favorable for any business, but it requires a cultural shift to achieve it.
If your business doesn't already adhere to the Lean or Agile frameworks, or otherwise has a culture that empowers built-in quality, you may struggle to make it work for your team.
For some businesses, reinventing current approaches simply aren't feasible. For instance, you might spend years re-shaping your culture to support built-in code quality, and that might not align with your other business goals.
Ultimately, whether or not your business pursues built-in quality comes down to your culture, management, and workflow. Of course, just because you don't implement built-in quality principles doesn't mean you can't keep working towards improved efficiency.
Regardless of whether or not your company is hoping to achieve built-in code quality, remember that it's not the only thing standing in the way of optimized development and greater output.
We've assisted countless companies in creating the tools, processes, and practices that worked best for them. We are focused on improving performance from end to end for achieving optimal efficiency.
Reach out and talk to us about your needs, goals and we will take care for custom solutions.