CXO

How project teams can improve QA testing

Insufficient testing costs companies significant amounts of money, time, and ultimately customers. Recognizing and addressing the root cause can help teams take corrective action early and avoid losses.

Quality defects are still a struggle for businesses. Isolating the root cause and resolving issues can be a challenge. Last year, it was estimated that the debacle with the overheating battery in Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 cost the company around $5 billion. Some say the issue could have been avoided with better testing.

What are some of the biggest causes of quality defects/deficits?

Quality defects can sometimes be hidden and go misdiagnosed if these issues exist:

  • an unclear understanding of internal or external clients and their needs
  • the testing environment or parameters are incorrect
  • no baseline exists to test against
  • gaps in requirements exist
  • shortcuts are taken
  • there is insufficient quality planning and estimating
  • there is a skills gap or shortage of expertise in
  • there are budget or timelines constraints in various areas
  • process issues
  • a lack of ownership or commitment
  • human error such as coding
  • over-complex designs
  • there are multiple tasks assigned to non-cohesive cross-functional teams

How do team processes impact the quality of deliverables?

"Unless the (quality assurance) process is well designed, clearly explained, and followed, there is an opportunity to allow faults to slip through," said John Sheeran, CEO of mobile device testing company Asset Science. He recommended that teams conduct continual process reviews to adherence and random audits to help ensure the QA process is as efficient as possible.

Tim Platt, a vice president at IT support company Virtual Operations said that having a clear understanding of internal and external customers is key. Lapses in procedure, such as shortcutting testing to meet an impending deadline are often the cause of problems, he said.

According to Rick Rampton, head of client success at QASource, team processes have the following impact:

  • Product releases happen within specified targeted time-frames.
  • There is optimal utilization of resources, budget, and infrastructure.
  • Errors in the product are minimum and within fixing limits.
  • Bottlenecks are easily tracked down, and respective corrective/preventive actions are taken.
  • There is standardization and uniform protocol being followed by each team involved.
  • Reviews should be done to make the product more stable and reliable.
  • There is clear and complete tracking on the progress of the product being developed.
  • There are no miscommunications or gaps between the business and engineering teams. What can project teams change to increase the product quality?

To increase quality, Sheeran said the following should exist :

  • A clear understanding that quality drives quantity and that it is worth the time to ensure quality in order to deliver on volume with the most efficiency and less cost
  • Processes that are well-documented, understood by operators and enforced by leadership
  • Real-time reporting and a clear feedback loop, which helps drive quality; enable issues to be addressed in real time, and prevent rework or returns due to poor delivery.

According to Rampton, teams can do the following to increase the quality of products:

  • Involve engineering teams from the start to better understand customer requirements.
  • Plan, estimate, and define roles and clear ownerships for the product to be released.
  • Detect defects early on to reduce rectification costs and enhance the quality of the product.
  • Do self and peer code reviews to ensure code passed is defect-free, and code coverage is thorough.
  • Perform post-analysis to explore root causes of the failure to develop preventive measures in future releases.
  • Do regular follow-ups and status meetings to make sure that members are aware of the systematic errors/defects, their symptoms, and solutions.
  • Create quality metrics that are easily readable and define project tracking data to keep quality top of mind and expose when efforts fall short.
  • Invest in automation to free up resources from repetitive testing and focus on the highest-priority tests and increase test cycles' repeatability.
  • Time skill upgrades to meet current trends and stay ahead in the market.

Providing high-quality products and services to stakeholders shouldn't be optional; project teams should take any necessary steps to avoid defects from the initiation through to project close to avoid costly issues around quality testing.

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Image: iStock/ribkhan

About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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