Just as the true test of a man’s character is how he behaves when alone, the true testament to quality is when a craftsman builds an item, and let’s say a watch here, and pays attention to the quality of his craftsmanship on parts that will never be seen by anyone else but another watchmaker. Software development is a craft, let no-one tell you otherwise.
In this world of “production line” software development we are losing the internal quality (and external but that is for another article) of our software. Why does this matter? Purely from an aesthetic perspective, it matters, even if you cannot see it. It matters that care and pride has been used to craft a product that will last as long as you need it to. We used to have full payroll systems that ran in 1 Kilobyte. I joke not. These were crafted with a tremendous amount of pride and care to get them to be fully functional but to fit into a confined space. Reminds you of a watchmaker again!
Lets leave the aesthetics for a while and concentrate on the functional. Rushed programming or indisciplined programming leads to a product that is less robust (a polite way of saying more bugs). When a practitioner thinks he or she is rated on production quantity and not quality, the craftsmanship has gone.
Interestingly, this “less robust” software usually ends up costing the producer a lot more than software that is crafted with quality built in.
Look at Apple for a moment. They don’t lead technical innovation (perhaps sometimes) but they are the most successful computer hardware company in the world. They were not the first with an MP3 player, they were not the first with a smart phone and they were not the first with SSDs in high specced machines.
Why are they so successful? Quality. As I type this on my Macbook Pro I can “feel” the quality of the product. Care and thought has gone into every aspect of their design. They do not simply take a mouse and replicate it. They build a solid aluminium and glass mouse, built to last and also built to perform in a different but intuitive way.
Every Apple product has a “Quality” feel about it. Even when you tear it down you can still see the “hidden” parts have the same quality.
That’s what people want. People want quality products and they are prepared to pay a premium to get them. The same goes for Software Quality. Invest in craftsmen and you will get a quality product. You don’t have to be first to market, you just have to be “best” to market to succeed.