At Sovrn, one of our core values is “second-order thinking.” This means we look beyond the obvious implications of any decision to consider the long-term downstream effects and ask, “And then what?” Second-order thinking is intentional and deliberate; it takes time and reflection.
Because of our commitment to second-order thinking, we’re turning the concept of quality on its head – especially when it comes to our engineering and product development processes.
Traditionally, quality review processes tend to be lumped towards the end of a project. Tests may be running in parallel while development is taking place, but ultimately, the question is, “Did it pass?” In many cases, quality checks aren’t finalized until well after a product goes into production.
We think that’s too late to be sure of a desirable outcome.
The pitfalls of test-driven performance
Test-driven development has become more mainstream in recent years. It is a thoughtful approach to developing, ensuring that tests are being conducted every step of the way, and the act of passing each test demonstrates that the code works. But even if the code passes the test gauntlet it could be different from what the product specifications require.
Communication is key
Communication is the best tool a team can leverage to enable quality throughout a development process. If everyone is on the same page, not only will the whole team have a better view of the project, but bugs are eliminated before they are written.
From the inception stage to deployment there should be quality waypoints. The first draft of the test plan can be developed in concert with the product at inception time. This is an ideal time to bring up test questions. Often this will allow you to identify architectural sticking points or pieces that may take more implementation time than originally thought, right from the outset.
Project check-in meetings can also be beneficial. If your project is being developed in phases, set a check-in meeting near the end of each phase. Sit down with the team and review the test plan and tickets. Ensure the work in this phase is meeting product expectations, and that blockers have not appeared between this phase and next.
At the end of the project, a final run-through of the test plan is equally useful. Break down the pass/fail stages of the test plan with team members, and try to ensure that engineers other than the original author take responsibility for testing each segment. This will help the whole team to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the project — beyond their individual assignment — and a fresh set of can reveal issues that would otherwise be missed.
Communicate early, communicate often
As these techniques become muscle memory, the entire development process becomes second nature. Your team will develop quicker and better projects. Architectural changes during the process will cease to exist, you will not see significant increase in your tech debt. Viewing the entire team, the entire project, and the entire customer experience as an inter-connected organic experience allows rapid and safe growth while mitigating risk.
Quality is not here to play the blame game, but rather to make developers’ lives easier. Fewer bugs, fewer on-call incidents, fewer outages. Happier developers, happier customers.
(Want to join the Sovrn team? If Sovrn sounds like the kind of place you’d like to work, let’s talk! We’re always looking for great people, so check out our open roles and submit an application.)
Quality extends to our customers
Our commitment to quality and second-level thinking are visible in our publisher approval processes. Whether you want to advertise with Sovrn or leverage our affiliate marketing platform, our quality team will first conduct a thorough review to ensure your site meets the industry best practices and typical merchant standards for quality, security and transparency.
While our approval processes might look different from other providers, they ensure a better long-term outcome for our publishers.
- For affiliate marketers, our rigorous up-front approval standards eliminate the need for separate applications to work with individual merchants. Once you’re approved on our //Commerce platform, you have immediate access to thousands of merchants so you can start earning right away.
- On the advertising side, the success of your ad program depends on your ability to attract ad buyers who will pay premium pricing for high-quality placements. Having your site vetted by a trusted ad partner (like Sovrn) signals to buyers that you’re creating quality, original content that drives real, organic traffic.