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Presentation: Leading a Journey to Better Quality

Track: Driving Full Cycle Engineering Teams at Every Level

Location: Mountbatten, 6th flr.

Duration: 4:10pm - 5:00pm

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What You’ll Learn

  1. Learn how to communicate across various teams the need to maintain quality.
  2. Learn about some of the metrics useful to measure quality in engineering and wider organisation.


Often managers are tasked with work to help improve teams and the engineering disciplines they follow. Most managers, unfortunately, end up deciding for themselves what practices will work best for the team and start by mandating change. However, a true leader likes to think about how everyone can be a part of their thought process and how they can encourage teams to implement collective ideas.

I have also been in this situation a few times. I have been brought in and asked to ‘improve overall quality’. In this session, I will discuss how I launched an initiative and created “quality champions” to help achieve this goal. The role of these “champions” was to help with some of the initiatives. I will talk about the steps I took to define the term 'bad quality' and how to better discover it as an earlier part of the software delivery process rather than as feedback from the customer.

Business impact and outcomes

  • How can quality be part of almost every phase of the SDLC
  • What metrics can be used to measure quality
  • How to keep everyone informed about these initiatives and their results

What is the focus of your work these days?


I work as Head of Quality at Thought Machine, and my focus has been one to enable teams to bake quality in the entire process, but not only engineering, it's also focused on how we work with clients, how we create processes, are we creating the right processes and so on. I work on measuring a lot of metrics as part of this. That's what I like to do day to day. Sometimes I also like to get my hands dirty and test tickets with the team.


What is the motivation for your talk?


I've always been asked to come in and fix quality in my role. But where do you start? It's not only about writing test automation. There are a lot of things which bring quality for an organization. I have done a lot of reading around this. I've spoken to a lot of people, some industry leaders around this and gotten ideas and tried to implement that. It sets a really good foundation for how to start. And hopefully in a year's time I'll be able to look back and reflect and share the outcomes, because that's what you want to listen to as a practitioner, which you don't get. I'm not shy of sharing things which didn't work out or things we tried and that didn't work out. And this is how we improved and this is why we improved and this is the motivation for it.


How would you describe the persona and the level of the target audience?


This talk is catered for everybody. Even if you're a junior engineer or you're mid-level or senior or you're principal level or a Scrum master, even if you're a product owner. Quality is about the whole food chain, as I call it in engineering. It starts from how you start writing stories to how you deliver and deploy and the feedback from your customer.


What do you want this persona to walk away from your talk with?


I want them to walk away with some metrics that I will discuss, how you can measure them. What is the value of measuring them, how to present and get buy in from the teams? Because this is something people in my role struggle with. Everybody wants quality. But if you think about the cost, time and quality triangle, quality is the one which gets scrapped quite easily. How do you make sure that you are not the only person talking about this and how can you make a compelling conversation.

Speaker: Maryam Umar

Head Of Quality @thoughtmachine

I work in London as Head of QA of a Fintech firm. I started my career thirteen years ago as a QA test engineer in the finance and mobile industry. After transitioning to the eCommerce sector, I performed QA in various capacities for online restaurant and travel services. I continue to work in QA as a manager now with special focus on sustainable delivery practices. In addition to this, I have been a keen advocate of creating and sustaining diverse teams. As I have transitioned in my career, I have found that creating teams which work well together is more challenging than the actual project(s) to be delivered by the team. I pay special attention to team dynamics and ensuring engineers are in roles which give them a sense of purpose. I have also been speaking at schools and universities to educate students about what the industry has to offer and what a creative space the technology sector can be.

Find Maryam Umar at

Preliminary tracks

Discover some of the topics you will see at QCon London. *The schedule is subject to change

Event-Based Architectures: The Hard Parts

Architectures You've Always Wondered About

Building High Performing Teams

Scaling Security, from Device to Cloud

From Remote to Hybrid Teams: Return to Office?

Performance/Mechanical Sympathy

Next Generation Microservices: Building Distributed Systems the Right Way

Modern Data Pipelines & Streams

The Cloud Operating Model

Chaos and Resilience: Architecting for Success

Scaling Frontend

Modern JVM Innovations

Crafting the Developer Experience

MLOps: Implementing ML Across the Enterprise

Architecting a Modern Financial Institution