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Elevating QA to CXO

Author: Harleen Bedi, Principal Consultant

With rapidly evolving and emerging technology trends such as Cloud, Mobile, Big data, Social, etc. QA is now being looked as a key component in the modernization and optimization agenda of any CXO. This is supported by - World Quality Report that reveals that Application Quality Assurance and Testing Now Accounts for almost a Quarter of IT Spending. 

However, the reality is that many organizations still do not demonstrate the business value of QA to the wider business, as they still mainly capture and report operational information such as -

  • Number of defects found (73 percent)
  • Cost per test case (55 percent)

Traditional QA Drives Application Excellence through these steps -

  • Understands Application Requirements
  • Validate whether Application meets Requirements
  • Measure and report the Quality, Cost, Time (QCT) goals of the QA function
  • Key stakeholders are Development teams and functional managers

This provides Limited or Narrow view available to CXO on QA's contributions...!

Where, the CXOs are focused on - ROI, Value to business, Innovation,  Efficiency and Reduced Risk, to name a few. Thus the key to communicate the actual value of quality assurance is explaining QA contributions in a way executives understand and can relate to rest of the business.

How to Bridge the Gaps?

  1. Define clear Mission statement for QA
  2. Linking QA and testing to achieve Business outcome
  3. Include strategic metrics in QA reports

1. Define clear Mission statement for QA

Before start of QA activities, define mission statement that outlines the goals of QA for each project. Share mission statement with management and deliberate the key likely concerns of the CXO for a specific initiative/program and consider these factors while defining QA goals. E.g. - Goal of QA is to improve data validation quality to avoid regulatory penalties. CXOs can easily appreciate this goal rather than a goal that says to have a defect free application.

2. Linking QA and testing to achieve Business outcome

Multi-dimensional change needs to be brought in terms of Governance, Delivery model and technology.

Governance: QA strategy with specific policies that are aligned to the business needs

Delivery Model: Moving from an allocation-based model to a charge-for-services model

Technology: A highly standardized technology foundation based on virtualization and cloud

Let QA integrate with all the stages of lifecycle to drive business goals...

  • QA feedback to assist in Business Process Optimization and Redesign
  • Early validation to integrate with development lifecycle
  • "Shift Left" strategy and "Test Early Fail Fast"   approach to reduce Time to market
  • Create/ Use Integrated tools and platforms to cover entire SDLC
  • Risk-based techniques to measure and minimize risk in releases
  • QA assets (test scripts) to assist in production monitoring
  • QA dashboards to assist in release decisions

3. Include strategic metrics in QA Reports

  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Stability to business
  • Reduced Risk Due to QA
  • Reduce Time to Market
  • Brand value

Don't talk Technology, talk business outcome in your QA Reports. QA reports / communication should highlight...contribution of QA to reduced time to market.

  • How by involving early in life cycle the defects are uncovered earlier
  • How to automation effort has reduced the cycle time

Cost savings by preventing defects

  • How Requirement reviews, design review and code reviews contributes preventing defects

Reduced business risk

  • How due to various kind od validations it ensures regulatory compliance
  • For business critical applications, how loss is prevented due to QA efforts

Translate Technology Value of QA to Strategic Business Value, as shown in few examples below -

  • Improvement in test cycle time for enterprise customer intelligence data warehouse facilitated increase in sales
  • Improved system availability of order management process led to incremental revenues
  • Increased system availability through proactive performance testing  in the Risk Management portfolio helped in reducing risk
The Ultimate goal should be for QA to become a key constituent in driving Business Goals

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