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Why Quality Matters

Who cares about quality?
We do, and we think you should too. Here are some reasons why: High quality code is easier to read and understand. That means programmers (including us!) making future upgrades will make fewer errors because they can clearly understand how the code is intended to function. And when code is well designed, it is easier to add features to it while maintaining its integrity, which increases the useful lifetime of the code. High quality code can also be modified more quickly, allowing your programmers to be more productive. Also, when code is easy to understand and modify, it is a pleasure to work on. This motivates programmers working on the code to perform their work with care, precision, and enthusiasm. High quality code also serves as an example for others, helping them to produce high quality code of their own.

Won't high quality code cost me more money?
We think high quality code will save you money: First, code that is well designed and thoroughly tested has fewer bugs. Since there are fewer bugs, your test team will spend less time discovering bugs and filing bug reports. Your management team (and testers and programmers) will spend less time in bug scrub meetings trying to understand, prioritize, and assign bugs to be fixed. Your programmers will spend less time reading bug reports, trying to reproduce problems, and analyzing and fixing code. The absence of even just a few bugs can literally save you tens or even hundreds of man-hours. Spending less time on bugs means your product gets to market faster, generating more revenue. It also means fewer problems in the field, increasing customer satisfaction and fostering repeat business.

Second, high quality code is easier to add features to (see Who cares about quality?). That means your programmers can be more productive. More productivity means faster code completion. This allows you to bring the next version of your product to market more quickly, increasing revenues.

I'm in a hurry. Won't high quality code take longer? We don't think so. We believe any additional time spent in carefully writing the code will be more than offset by the time saved testing and debugging the code (see Won't high quality code cost me more money?). In contrast, poor quality code will have more bugs and they will be harder to fix: more bugs because the programmer will have taken short cuts by not handling cases that "will never happen"; and harder to fix because the design won't be modular or robust enough to make the correct solution easy to implement. The programmer will likely cover up the problem by adding a special-case hack instead of making the effort to fix the underlying problem. This degrades the quality of the code even more and will probably result in even more bugs!

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Last updated June 2010