The 5 Dimensions of Product Quality You Should Know
Developing and delivering the best quality products and services is the goal of any product manager worth their salt. And it is high-quality products that lead to sustainable growth and provide value over time. In contrast, poor products are likely to cost customers.
Driving this sustainable growth that is vital for businesses to succeed in the long run ultimately comes down to quality.
But, how can we measure quality? How much should we invest in quality improvement? And what do we even mean by ‘quality’ – Are there objective criteria we can follow?
Why is assessing product quality important?
Before you even design or deploy a product, it’s essential to research the market and study all aspects in great detail.
You need to be sure demand exists at the considered price point and that the product you create will meet customer needs and expectations. This should all come before committing to the product or service and the expensive product marketing costs that follow.
With this information, you can drill down into what really matters to this customer. What features are they looking for, at what stage will they be using the product, and who is the target audience? This information should drive much of the development and decision-making for the product. By being aware of this, you can create a perfectly matched product for your audience.
To start thinking about quality strategically, you must begin at the start of the product life cycle, at the concept phase. Periodically after that, you should re-evaluate at every upgrade plan so the whole team is completely clear about the quality aspects you seek to fulfill and succeed within the market.
What are the five dimensions of product quality?
Having a set framework defined ahead of time will allow you to measure the product against each point a reminder and reinforcement of the top priorities. Breaking down the meaning behind ‘quality’ for each product will make each stage more manageable and easier to progress with.
While each organization will have different ideas of quality and what this means to their product, some dimensions are particularly important for all.
So, let’s dive in.
Reliability focuses on how a product (or service) can be relied upon to perform consistently according to specifications and customer expectations.
A product must be reliable for it to be continuously widely used.
As a general rule, the more costly and damaging the effects of malfunction, downtime, and maintenance, the more critical reliability is to consumers. Nevertheless, if an app constantly ‘hangs,’ it is likely to gain a damaging reputation for unreliability, even if there is a quick and straightforward fix.
Above all, a product must be easy to use and accessible for the target audience. The product must perform in a way that allows the user to achieve their objectives and complete the relevant tasks.
For software, this could refer to an exceptionally elegant, easy-to-use, and intuitive interface (UI.)
After the initial usability of the software has been incorporated into the planning process, it then comes down to the individual aspects of performance. Companies are often ranked objectively on these and how well the product performs at each turn.
The more usable and adaptable a product is, the more likely it is for high customer satisfaction. This promotes loyalty and limits the number of times customers need to contact for support or become stuck in the process. Later down the line, this could potentially prevent users from opting for this software as it’s not efficient.
As new software changes come around, as they always do, the product must remain updated so it has optimum usability and can stand the test of time. It should be adaptable to change.
Each product should serve a purpose and have a set of functions or capabilities that fulfill the target consumer’s needs.
For some, functionality and the breadth of features integrated into the software are a mark of quality and make the product stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Although, this can cause a tendency to add even more features to the software in development just because you can. But, in these cases, the product can become ‘bloated’ and confusing. Ensuring that the developed features add value to your customers is most important.
To improve functionality, create a list of requirements relevant to your software product that solve current issues or aspects that will benefit your audience. This way, you can stay focused on the features that matter most.
Will these features be needed or of benefit to the user? It would help if you kept this question in mind throughout your design process.
This refers to a product that can be durable yet can be restored or repaired to a good condition within a short period of time. This promotes loyalty from the target audience and users as they understand the product has been designed with excellent durability, but it can be amended as and when needed.
A software product will rely significantly on its adaptability to changing customer expectations and many external variables, such as web browsers and operating systems that are constantly evolving.
Software products must be monitored and adapted to ensure they remain in step with the technical environment on which they depend and interact. The software needs to be regularly tested against external variables to maintain product quality. It’s crucial to consider if upgrades can be completed efficiently while being reliable and economical to all involved?
Each software product must be able to be used in the way intended, with ease. Any friction or bugs can put a user off, with efficiency being a high priority for many.
This quality factor often comes down to the source code and the product’s architecture – database, servers, etc. Making sure these are all working at optimal speeds can increase usage.
With the whole world at a click of a button, users expect software to load up almost instantly so they can continue with their objectives. Any lagging or slow response times can be frustrating.
While ensuring this quality dimension from the start is possible, it can also be monitored and measured throughout each step – even after launch. And the data gathered within this can be extremely valuable for improving the product.
Bringing it all together
These five dimensions of quality provide a robust, multi-faceted framework for companies to evaluate their products and explore opportunities for competitive advantage.
While it’s unnecessary to pursue all dimensions at once, using a framework can help ensure you take a more rounded and inclusive approach to your products and the market. It also alleviates any problems or missed opportunities early on.
Most importantly, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think carefully about their needs and preferences.
Gaining full transparency
craft.io is an all-in-one product management tool that will help you assess product quality, create product roadmaps, and allow for complete transparency with product data.
With real-time performance feedback, many of the quality dimensions, such as performance, serviceability, and reliability, can be assessed through craft.io.
With craft.io, you can connect strategy to user story and provide additional context to help stakeholders understand the rationale behind decisions.