Prudent Pathways to Quality

Tim Hunter

Published by





Reviewed by

Kawal Banga, MBCS, CITP, CEng


6 out of 10

Prudent Pathways to QualityThis book had potential to be a very good book, but the style, approach and presentation let it down badly. 

The author claims that ‘IT testing is being made into a toothless “rubber stamping” exercise’. Indeed, based on my own 25 years' experience in the IT industry, the bulk of which has been spent in QA and testing, there is a danger that this can happen. However, it is the job of the QA and testing staff to make sure this doesn’t happen. Much of what the author states is true, and will be recognised by any experienced QA and testing person.

This leads me onto my first issue: who exactly is this book for? The author states that the book is intended for, well, almost everyone, from business managers, business users and IT project staff to students of IT, politicians and recruitment agents. As a consequence, I don’t believe this book is sufficiently focussed to discuss any topic in depth to attract a particular type of target audience. 

The author states that quality standards such as ISO, TickIT and CMMi are ‘based on “progressive” views of quality, i.e. they focus on process rather than the outcome’ and he suggests that improved processes do not lead to improved products as claimed by such standards.

He goes on further to say that these standards claim to provide an accurate measure of quality and that this claim is false. Having been responsible for ISO and TickIT in the past and involved in TQM, I’m afraid I don’t agree with these statements. These standards do adopt a process approach, but they all also still focus on the product or service and require product / service measures, as well as customer, employee and supplier measures. 

There is much useful material, and the author does highlight various issues affecting quality and offers solutions, but generally he comes across as being very negative, both through the use of language such as ‘brainwashing’ and ‘mind control’, and through negative comments about certain categories of individuals.

One would have thought that this book is not the right place to share views such as suggesting that in the past programmers deliberately wrote unstructured code with little documentation to keep themselves in jobs, that recruitment agencies add little value, and that politicians and governments are not treating freelancers fairly.


  • I found typographical, grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors on 15 pages (and I wasn’t actually looking for them, so there are probably more). 
  • The margins are not suitable for book-binding - the right-hand margin on even-numbered pages is too narrow, so you have to bend the pages over to read them properly. 
  • It isn’t until you get to page 27 that you are told what the target audience of the book is.
  • The ‘List of Figures’ is at the back of the book. 
  • The index is very poor. There are some bizarre entries, for example, ‘erase’, ‘evolve’ and ‘degree’ are listed as indexed words. When you look at the pages containing the word ‘degree’, you find entries like ‘degree of confidence’ and ‘degree of quality’. However, there is no entry for DBT (Development By Test), and DBT is a very important approach in the book.

Although I agree with many of the sentiments in this book, I don’t believe the approach to communicating the quality message taken in this book will further the quality cause.

January 2010