Our webcast “The 3 B’s of Testing: Basics, Best Practices and Best Strategies” was held last week and it brought out many questions about testing best practices and strategies. Today we bring you the QA session transcript and the answers by our experts.
How long does it take to build a Testing Center of Excellence?
Well, for a Testing Center of Excellence you have to walk before you can run. So you have two options: you can build it internally or you can outsource it. Many organizations, like recently State Farm in Indiana and Illinois choose to outsource this function. This was a service center of nearly a thousand people, huge effort. This project took a year and a half to stand up, and about six more months to stabilize.
For most organizations, you first need to evaluate what kind of coverage you are getting with your internal testing team. Do you plan to sustain 100% of all the project activities, or are there some that you can’t get to? Our Health Check can help you assess where your organization maturity is at, but typically, it’s a 1 to 3 year process to build a Testing Center of Excellence. The first year is about staffing and stabilizing your services, the second year you are looking at stability and maturity, and the third year is about optimization.
What is the optimal way for the development team to comply and understand with Industry Testing Standards set by QA?
First of all, it depends on how the standards are being communicated. If it’s just a document sitting on a Sharepoint site or directory instead of a conversation, I’d say you’re starting out at risk already. Second, your relationship with your development team is one of the biggest partnerships you are going to have, so if you already have a standard methodology like waterfall, you need to have recurrent meetings with the team to go over it. You also need to involve and collaborate on the collection of metrics, and review how they are doing regarding following the standards. It starts simply with code reviews: are they happening? Have them demonstrate that they are occurring. Once the code reviews are complete, move to unit testing. Again, have them show the keys, the execution results. This is a great part of creating traceability within a project lifecycle. If you do these things, and work on maintaining those relationships, I can guarantee that you will see improvement in consistency.
How do we ensure quality when the test team is really small compared to the development team?
This gets back to metrics and scope. Common ratios across the industry right now are one Test person for four developers. Realistically, it should be closer to 2 to 1 or 3 to 1. That said, as you are going through your planning phases, you need to show what your strategy is, and then from there you move on to your Test covers. So then you should know what you are testing, the number of tests, and the amount of data so you can start to think about your preparatory activities (what we call entrance criteria). Be very transparent with this information; share it with everyone, so that they understand that from a scope standpoint, you cannot cover everything. Then the conversation will go in two directions: you either need to add resources to cover all the scope, the project is going to have to get extended, or people are going to switch to a risk model, which means not everything will be tested, but you can at least document what gets tested and what not.
Can ITC help us decide which are the best areas to automate in our business?
Yes. One way is through Health Check; another is for us to perform a specific assessment against your team and the product or service you are developing, and we can help you identify what the quick wins can be for you. The importance of automation is developing something that is sustainable and repeatable, because that’s where you get the added value. You don’t want to get in a situation where you use it one time for the success of one project, that’s not a quality investment of your resources or time.
We have multiple projects and change management happening simultaneously in our organization. How do you decide on a testing strategy for this?
You can define an overall testing strategy using this image as a high level statement
You can either to efficiently provide testing services, using a best practices, toolsets and data management to evolve and mature your testing services. You should develop a testing strategy for each project. In this case I would recommend putting together a Master Test Plan, which is an all-purpose document. It’s a living document, so this works great in companies who use Sharepoint or have a shared network drive where they can implement version control. This way you have everything in one place, and it also gives visibility and shows the improvements testing brings to the organization.
We don’t have a separate testing team. Who should control the QA processes in the organization?
I would take this to the senior leadership and explain you’re seeing this as an outstanding gap that should be addressed. The decision needs to come from senior leadership, whether it’s a function of IT, or the business or a blended approach. I’d take caution in a blended approach since all of these things should have individual owner, and the quickest way to manage this is through a RACI matrix.
Contact us now for a Testing Health Check to increase your ROI and ensure quality.