Prior to QA testing cycle, making quality measurements is difficult. At this point, QA is focused on test plans, automation, and product definition, while the engineering team is focused on designing and building the product. Getting an earlier quality snapshot of what is going on prior to any testing being done is useful because most of the quality problems are built in during definition and design.
A potential early quality indicator is QA team quality perception. This approach measures the QA team quality perception during the release the entire release cycle. This approach is effective on larger projects when the QA team is working alongside engineering during development to build up their test plans.