This post was inspired by the following advice from a software test professional:
This advice may be inspirational for some but it may limit the solution space.
A Framing Error
Although it is convenient to refer to "the software," this phrase contributes to a framing error. It is unlikely that someone in the compartmentalized role of a software tester will have sufficient insights to know when the application is ready. Just because all the documented software release procedures have been completed (test driven development approach, software checked in, automated test suite completed,...) doesn't confirm that the application is ready.
In the past at Apple, the evaluation of 'ready' would have been confirmed by Steve Jobs. He evaluated the elegance of the design and the quality of the user experience.
Recall that before iOS 3, there was no cut-and-paste functionality on an iPhone. When the development team's solution met Steve's standards, cut and paste was released in 2009.
Steve's user experience expectations permeated new product development at Apple. His holistic vision exceeded the contributions of one functional group such as 'Software' or 'Test.'
At too many companies, determining when an application or product is ready becomes a negotiation involving business interests, sales and marketing interests, engineering interests, and compliance interests. When the company culture support compartmentalized contributions (when functional groups act as independent silos), it is unlikely that the better decision will be made. The arguments tend to be myopic. Usually, the loudest, most persuasive voice (frequently the HiPPO) prevails.
Something better than options
Too often, many hours of the project are consumed discussing options and revising deadliness. Too often, opinions are unvalidated inputs. Too often, unvalidated opinions become requirements.
A better approaches employs multiple hypotheses and well-crafted experiments. This places the focus on validated learning. This approach celebrates proof points, not milestones.
This is an agile approach that embraces set-based design and testing beyond the board room and team room. Validated learning requires the evaluation of results from testing with target customers.
To make better decisions, the product development efforts should be holistic. The user experience criteria should be elevated. It would be nice to have a user experience champion like Steve Jobs to comment on what will be released and what will be deferred. Perhaps, we can all try to be a bit more like Steve in this regard.