Creating Business Value with Mature QA Practices

Adapting continuously to the latest disruptive technologies while simultaneously handling multiple projects with expectations of faster response times is critical, especially from a QA & software testing perspective. Testing teams are expected to validate the product and verify that it is defect-free, in addition to ensuring the fulfillment of the overall strategic business goals by increasing organization’s business value at a reduced cost. The current volatile economic environment further adds to this already complex matrix.

In this scenario, most companies often struggle with what development practices, permutations, and combinations could best address the business needs while sidelining the software testing and QA team. Traditionally, QA teams were hardly considered a part of the IT strategy puzzle and seldom expected to contribute towards innovation. However, major breakthroughs in software testing ideas like DevOps and Agile Testing changed the picture, adding significantly to the business value of the organization. These changes paved the path for continuous testing and frequent deployments. Besides, Cloud, Virtualization, SaaS, test-driven development or crowdtesting have permanently changed the testing landscape. Still, a multitude of possibilities remain to be explored with latest disruptive technologies like IoT, digitalization, and more, making their way into the present, and near future.

In such a scenario, mature QA practices need to be retorted to for a successful outcome. These practices primarily revolve around the following areas:

Comprehending the Business Perspective: QA & software testing teams must be able to comprehend business processes that the application must support. They must be well aware of the business perspective in the context of this highly competitive and volatile environment. This assists in:

  • Clearly delineating business requirements
  • Identification of critical business process defects
  • Better risk assessment and management

Comprehending the End-User’s Perspective: The software testing teams must understand and test the app with an end-user’s perspective. This assists in:

  • Getting a better understanding of the software quality being offered from the end user’s POV
  • Determining what can possibly go wrong with the software
  • Comprehending how the product can be improved further for better UX

Mapping the Business Impact: Tests must be based on the criticality of the business requirements ensuring that optimal QA coverage is achieved with minimum risk. This assists in:

  • Preparing test cases that can cover latest changes
  • Focusing attention where required
  • Optimizing time spent on testing and making tests more cost-effective

Measuring the Business Metrics: It is vital to measure both business program and testing program metrics for quantifying and communicating business value derived from QA, and these metrics need to be regularly leveled up with continuous testing. This is significant for two reasons:

  • To evaluate the quality of the current processes
  • To take future decisions based on analysis of the metrics measured

These are the few areas that can help achieve enhanced business value when QA programs are developed in sync with them. Let us now discuss some mature QA best practices that can lead to successful software testing.

Mature QA Practices

Organizational Commitment: There should be an organizational level commitment to develop a strong testing culture in the organization. This can be reflected by the readiness of the organization to follow a shift left approach and imbibe the latest testing methods and techniques.

Lean-method Adoption:  Organizations must adopt Agile and DevOps to eliminate inefficiencies and improve effectiveness in a QA life cycle. This drives seamless integration and collaboration of the different departments, making the entire software team collectively responsible for a faster high-quality end-product, resulting in an increased ROI.

Delineating Clear Deliverables: Clearly delineating requirements into concrete deliverables by involving key stakeholders in the process, and creating a test plan document ensures that the entire testing process remains on track.

Hiring Skilled Workforce: Necessary experience and ability to cope up with disruptive technologies makes a good QA. A skilled and experienced tester with requisite domain knowledge and the ability to understand business needs and latest testing tools and techniques should be hired for a quality end product.

Adopting Tool Usage: Manual testing is an integral part of the software testing process, yet with increasingly complex scenarios and the need for speed to market, tool usage and automation are becoming inevitable. Hence, the use of tools for tracking and managing defects and for the creation of test cases and their execution is important, and testing companies must be ready to adopt and use these for superior and faster deployments.

Generating Test Metrics: Measuring business and testing metrics to continually improve the testing process is essential for enhanced software quality. The metrics should be continuously upgraded to effectively measure the software quality, given the complexities posed by growing disruptive technologies.

Offering a Collection of Test Environments: There is definitely a tradeoff between test environment and cost. But with increasing complexity, the ultimate solution is the provision of a collection of test environments that mimic all possible hardware, software, network, data and usage characteristics. A feasible approach for testing companies could be to go for virtual test environments in the cloud, in addition to testing in real environments where required.

Embracing Parallel Testing: Embracing parallel testing effectively contributes to Agile, DevOps, and CI approach and prevents testers from running same tests again and again on different machines. It can be used with utmost efficiency in the cloud, offering a significant level of resource and time reduction.

Managing Test Data: Creating complete test data in compliance with industry standards, legislation and baseline documents is the core responsibility of the tester. Better data management by companies will lead to better test coverage, reduction in bugs, and a better end-product.

Improvising the Process: Continuous improvement and waste reduction are significant for testing companies in constantly changing environments for a higher product quality and reduced costs.

These business value drive QA practices, when followed, can deliver better quality at reduced costs and faster time to market. Identify where your company’s current test capabilities stand based on the above mature QA practices and improve and optimize accordingly for better outcomes.

Happy Testing!!

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