Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can You Say Yes or No?

We're nearing a release, and that always brings up the interesting questions:
- Is It Ready?
- Should We Ship This?
- Okay, QA, Make the Call

All fine questions. All questions that QA alone cannot answer. So, where does QA's power/job/role start and where does it end? In my head, it's pretty simple. QA can stop a release, but QA cannot allow a release to go forward.

QA can:
- stop a release
- change a release from general shipping to limited ship. This is a milder form of holding a release.
- describe the current state of the release, including what is known and what is not
- characterize the risks and concerns in releasing at any point

QA cannot:
- decide to ship a release.
- work in a vacuum. Business input is needed to help weigh bugs.

I'm aware that this is somewhat controversial; it's not uncommon for a management type to say that the release has to ship over QA's objections. Usually the rationale behind this is a deal or revenue: "We have to ship in Q2 or we can't close this deal!" The short answer to this is that you really should have a QA lead that you can say these things to, and the QA lead can consider that in holding a release (or altering it to meet the terms needed while limiting exposure).

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