How can software QA processes be implemented without stifling productivity?
Implement QA processes slowly over time.
Use consensus to reach agreement on processes and adjust and experiment as an organization grows and matures. Productivity will be improved instead of stifled. Problem prevention will lessen the need for problem detection. Panics and burnout will decrease and there will be improved focus and less wasted effort.
At the same time, attempts should be made to keep processes simple and efficient, minimize paperwork, promote computer-based processes and automated tracking and reporting, minimize time required in meetings and promote training as part of the QA process. However, no one, especially talented technical types, likes bureaucracy and in the short run things may slow down a bit. A typical scenario would be that more days of planning and development will be needed, but less time will be required for late-night bug fixing and calming of irate customers.