Monday, January 9, 2012

Quality Assurance

What do newspapers, websites, household goods, food, computers, cars, and virtually every other consumable product have in common that routesetting often lacks? QA.

What is QA for routesetting?
  • Good forerunning - ego at the door; objectivity; fair, concise and constructive communication. No one should be exempt from having their routes forerun.
  • A plan for improvement - if you have too many of a certain move, too much of a certain style, too many sequences being skipped by climbers, etc - how will you prevent that from happening next time?
  • All routes are equal - spend time on routes based on the attention they will receive, not the attention you want to give them. Harder routes sometimes necessitate more effort, but easier and moderate routes will receive the most traffic, abuse and criticism.
  • The primary goal of QA is to make a better product. Are your routes better this week than last week? This month than last month? Where can your process be improved?


  1. Questions: You put up a route, forerun it, tweak it, time is running out and there is still clean-up to do, and the route is still so-so. You've got to go and you slap a rating on it. Is it ok to leave a mediocre route on the wall? Is it imperative that the setter return and make it better? Do you wait for feedback from the gym's clientele?

  2. Best practices exist for best case scenarios. Not every route is perfect.

    Is it ok to leave a mediocre route on the wall? I would say no, but that's me. If your gym has a head routesetter who does wall maintenance / random tweaking, it could be taken care of then. Otherwise, perhaps you could take care of it on your next shift.

    Is it imperative that the setter return and make it better? Again, depends. #1, there has to be some acceptable level of quality, because not all routes are perfect and most gyms can't afford a ton of overtime. And as a corollary, #2, you can always, always keep tweaking a route - no route is ever perfect.

    Waiting for feedback would be less than optimal. The routesetter should be the expert, not the climber. Ideally, you're getting feedback from other setters. If that's not possible, then your QA has to come from yourself. This requires more objectivity, more raw climbing experience, and more time/budget.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. It's been bugging me for 2 days. I guess I already knew the answer. Thanks for confirming!

  4. i find that most mediocre routes happen when the setter is in a rush. so the my advice to setters is don't set if you can't take the time to work things out on your route, just come back another day when you have the time. any piece of art is never just slapped together half assidly, it takes time and thought. especially in the commercial end of setting we are making and designing products for others to enjoy. simply put take your time and have fun with it.

  5. Furthermore, with quality assurance, business firms are expected to produce only items of the best quality. It ensures that a company sustains the highest standard possible for its products and services. That’s how important it is.

  6. I agree with Clark. Quality assurance is important in every business! Clients prefer companies where they are assured of receiving only quality products and services. If you want to gain customers’ loyalty, invest on quality because it’s the surest way to keep your business’ credibility.

    -Barton Wilson