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Next-Gen QA - Independent to Optimization


In my last blog, I listed out the 5 key areas that will enable QA organizations to play a vital role in the client's IT optimization journey. Taking this discussion forward, in this blog (series 2), we will take a look at the first parameter that will help in the paradigm shift - INDEPENDENT TO OPTIMIZATION.


What is "Test Optimization"? Let me illustrate this with a case study from my experience. 


A leading banking IT organization analyzed their IT spend across all phases of SDLC for few of their large technology programs (fresh development). This analysis revealed an interesting pattern. The cost of testing (across all phases of SDLC) accounted for nearly 60% of the overall program cost.


Further analysis indicated that the testing effort had far exceeded development and other efforts primarily because the Program Managers had (blindly) factored-in all types of testing - Unit Testing, System Testing, System Integration Testing, Regression Testing, Performance Testing, Security Testing, Users Acceptance Testing, Build Validation, Operational Acceptance Testing, Production Readiness Testing, etc., while estimating for the program. In short, the Program Manager was just playing the role of an aggregator and consolidating the estimates shared by different teams. Deep-diving into the testing scope and estimates revealed that different teams were assuming a pre-determined scope and deploying ready-made estimation frameworks and test strategies. Not one among them was capable of challenging the testing scope, strategy and the estimates. As a result, inherent redundancies crept in and testing activities were getting duplicated across all phases of the SDLC.


The development team factored the effort for Unit Testing and System Testing, followed by independent testing teams who factored for System Testing and SIT. This was because they considered themselves as truly independent and did not want to rely on development testing. The User Acceptance Team factored the effort right from test planning to test case preparation because they did not believe in the business capabilities of either of the teams. The Operational Acceptance Team estimated the effort for running all batch jobs without even understanding the need for running them. As always, the Program and Business Heads challenged the overall estimates as usual, but were never in a position to challenge the testing scope and identify the duplication/redundancies in testing activities from a holistic view. Through this analysis the organization clearly underscored the need for optimization by reducing duplication/redundancies and building efficiencies across all phases of the SDLC, through multiple quality gates.


Today, more than ever, IT organizations and businesses are looking for QA to take on the role of an optimizer and lead this journey. Next-generation QA will be all about how QA organizations are gearing themselves to play this optimizer role more effectively.


Testing effort, cost, schedule, efficiency and quality - all fall under the umbrella of Test Optimization, which may conflict or compromise Independent Testing in certain cases. QA organizations must be prepared to manage such conflicts through effective QA Governance/Assurance, internal controls and audits. As Test Optimization calls for improvements in upstream (requirements, design, development) and downstream (User Acceptance Testing - UAT) phases, QA organizations will be expected to play collaborative roles with development and business teams to realize this goal. Shift Left and Right (UAT and business) approaches will gain more prominence.


Listed below are a few measures that will help QA organizations achieve test optimization:


ü  Prepare a comprehensive end-to-end (E2E) Test Strategy/Approach covering all test phases from unit testing to UAT to production readiness.

o   From a Test Optimization perspective, this will be critical to reduce time to market, eliminate redundancies, focus on progressive testing and define KPIs of different teams.


ü  Focus on Test Governance (besides Test Delivery) for E2E Test Assurance.

o   This will enable assurance of E2E test process compliance with multiple stakeholders (development and business). QA organization must play an audit/assurance role for the testing activities carried out by other teams and multiple vendors.


ü  Define and measure KPIs for upstream phases (Business, development and Design teams) to drive the message and inject the DNA  "Quality is every one's responsibility". Similarly, measure QA organization efficiency through stringent KPIs in UAT and production.

o   This is a pre-requisite to rely on multiple quality gates

o   This will drive the overall quality and performance management of the technology organization as a whole. 


ü  Look for innovative practices, processes and controls to play the Governance and Collaborator role effectively while retaining the independent QA stature and controls.


These measures will help the technology organization remove redundancies and improve the overall efficiency and quality.


In my next blog, we will talk about another key parameter - Inward Development to Outward Business Focus.


See you soon.


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