During the end of the the 20th century, IBM had a TV commercial that I’m quite fond of. I can’t find it on YouTube, but its quite short. There are two suites talking, one reading a magazine. The one with the magazine says “We need to be on the Internet”, the other asks, “Why?” the first replies “It doesn’t say”.

I’ve seen this approach applied to Software quality several times now.

Allot of managers are hearing good things about automated tests. This results in allot of in house improvement projects trying to solve the question “How can we get more automated tests”.

The problem is that the question is asked all wrong. What the question really should be is “How do we improve software quality?”.

The end result might as well be more automated tests. But if you have a team of developers whom have never worked with testing. Your product isn’t going to be testable, and they will need allot of help. Help to set them up, but first and foremost help to understand why it is important to, not test but, to produce High Quality working software.

Most developers do not believe that there is a problem with their quality of the software. Without getting the team to think about software quality while their working, automated testing will take a long time to get in place. Above all the investment on automated tests will have a longer Return of Investment.

Now automated tests might be a part of the end solution for improving the quality of software, but getting the discussion about software quality going in a well behaved manner can have so much more Return of Investment.