One of the most popular startup quotes is “move fast and break things.”
Inspired by Facebook’s hugely successful growth and development philosophy, it’s great, effective advice, but rarely the best strategy for every startup.
There’s a time to move fast and break things.
And there’s a time to ensure that you move at a deliberate pace, so there’s no negative impact on quality.
There’s a time to make sure your customers have a pristine and bug-free experience — that the errors you make now, if any, are easy to fix further down the road. That time often comes much sooner than most technology company founders realize.
Why Quality Assurance Still Matters
It’s not easy to transition from the fast and lean mentality that’s needed to make progress in a highly competitive marketplace to a laser focus on quality. The truth is that companies need a mix of both — when one is prioritized over the other, and leadership loses track of either growth or quality, a slowdown inevitably occurs.
Just like the lean startup methodology has changed how Silicon Valley companies build new products and innovate, a new paradigm needs to come in to modernize the concept of quality assurance and its application for technology businesses.
Does your company prioritize quality assurance, or is “move fast and break things” your driving philosophy for creating new products? If you prioritize speed above quality, you could face significant costs in the future.
Below, we’ve listed three reasons focusing on quality assurance, even at the cost of rapid progress, is often a better strategy than “move fast and break things.”
If you’re part of a growing, maturing startup, read on to learn why slowing down and focusing on quality could be in your best interests.
When Things Break, Fixing Them Can Become Very Expensive
In 2007, Mattel spent more than $30 million recalling nearly nine million toys believed to have been affected by lead-based paint. In 2006, Dell and Sony spent an estimated $400 million to recall more than four million laptops with batteries that could become excessively overheated.
When products break or malfunction on a large scale, recalling them can become an extremely costly process. Hardware startups, particularly those that manufacture products that can pose a safety risk if QA is ignored, should be aware of the cost of moving too quickly.
In the software world, the cost of releasing a defective product is obviously far lower. However, there are still significant costs associated with fixing buggy or outright broken software.
There’s the cost of working around the clock to solve a problem. It’s an opportunity cost — instead of patching a buggy release, your development and QA team could have focused on a new product.
Finally, there’s the cost to your brand.
When you release buggy, unstable or defective software, it takes a toll on people’s perception of your company. If your software is mission critical, getting a reputation for lax quality assurance is never a good thing.
Over Time, a Focus on Quality Assurance Starts to Define Your Brand
Just like a poor focus on quality can define your company negatively, a positive focus on quality can help your company develop a strong, respected brand.
Marketing data shows that consumers judge brands based on “perceived quality” — their view of the quality of a particular product or service. While branding isn’t yet a total meritocracy, quality does matter.
Study the most trusted brands in America and you’ll notice that the top-ranking brands all have decades of quality as their history. In consumer products and in technology, trusted brands are at a significant advantage.
Apple capitalized on its reputation for quality with the phrase “it just works” in products demos and keynotes. Compared to its at-the-time buggy competition, the phrase strengthened what many consumers perceived as superior quality control.
The first mover advantage is worth a lot, especially in the crowded mobile app and web-based software markets. However, while moving fast can push you ahead of your competitors in the short term, a focus on quality can get you even further ahead in the long term.
In Software, Quality Assurance Helps You Attract and Retains Customers
Better quality assurance testing not only knocks out bugs and usability issues — it also helps you attract and retain more customers. A higher quality product results in happier users, a better experience, and a greater time investment in your product, all of which have a positive effect on retention.
When users are happy with your product, they’re also more likely to refer their friends. 54% of chief executives rate customer referrals as their best leads, showing the importance of giving your existing users and customers a convenient, enjoyable, bug-free experience.
We’ve covered this topic before in our guide to QA testing and retention.
When you create a quality product, be it physical or virtual, people will want to share it with their friends.
Deliver quality and every aspect of your marketing process becomes far more effective.