10 keys to building a successful Quality Center of Excellence

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Do you have a Quality Center of Excellence or a Testing Center of Mediocrity using industry worst practices? 

 

Take the quiz below to uncover where your organization stands. If you answer “yes” to two or more of the questions below, your QA and Testing organization is more than likely sub-optimal.

 

 

 Think back on recent deliverables and ask yourself:

  1. Is there typically a chaotic rush to hit the release date with little regard for quality?
  2. Do numerous critical and severe defects escape to production?
  3. Is there a huge backlog of known issues in production that have been waiting
    to get fixed for months or years?
  4. Does your team lack quality metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to enable meaningful business decisions?
  5. Are users negatively impacted when new software releases come out?

 

If you answered, “Yes” to two or more questions above don’t despair.  You are not alone and there is hope for you. 

 

Here is my simple top 10 list, which has proven to be successful in empowering a POSITIVE quality transformation. This is just like when someone tells you to “eat less and exercise more and you will lose weight.”   Some of this advice is simple but not always as easy.

 

1.     Commitment to quality

Commitment to quality has to come from the top of the organization. Executive support for quality is essential, and it has to be in actions not just words. If it is clear that a software release won’t be ready for production, you must have the courage to do what is right for the business and speak up. This is just a true in Agile development environments.    

 

2.     Independent voice for quality

In order to have an independent voice for quality, you need to be a respected team member and have the ability to honestly deliver bad news, without being handicapped with a conflict of interest.

 

3.     Understanding business and technical risk-reward trade-offs

It is important to understand the business and technical risks reward trade-offs. Promising ZERO defects and QUALITY  without compromise, is often unrealistic in most fast-paced competitive environments.

 

4.     A focus on defect prevention and early detection

Early involvement of QA in the Software Development Lifecycle consistently proves to save money in the long run. Defects caught in the requirements and design phases, can be hundreds of times less expensive then defects caught in
production. In Agile environments, QA and Testing need to be part of the team every step of the way. The renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright said “You can fix it now on the drafting board with an eraser or you can fix it later on the
construction site with a sledge hammer.”  Which do you think is cheaper?

 

5.     End-to-End Customer experience testing

Most testing teams do a pretty good job of functional testing in specific areas, like web- or retail-application testing. Customer experience defects are often found where the systems integrate. Therefore, it is important to have efforts
dedicated to end-to-end integration testing.

 

6.     Operationalize and automate repeatable tasks

At many companies, testing processes are manual and inefficient. It is important to operationalize and automate important, repeatable tasks to optimize your efforts. Automation is not just about regression testing; automation should be used for other tasks such as test data creation, test lab management tasks and reporting. 

 

7.     Standardize and simplify processes, tools and methods

Every testing group thinks they are special and likes to customize their own processes, tools and methodologies. I have found that standardizing and simplifying testing processes, tools and methods has a profound and immediate return on investment.     

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8.     Manage by facts

Standardizing allows leaders to manage by facts instead of emotions or opinions, enabling informed decision making. Having the facts available with a quality dashboard will help make your team a Quality Authority.

 

 

 

9.     Continuous process improvement

When you have the facts, it is important to continuously look for ways to improve the testing and QA process through lessons learned or root-caused analysis.  Historical trends, such as release-over-release are invaluable in developing estimation tools and release readiness predictive models.

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10. Build and maintain a high performing QA team including employees and partners

The most important key  is to develop and maintain a high performing QA team that includes both employees and partners. It is amazing how much a person with a bad attitude can pull down a team. On the other hand, a highly skilled and motivated employee delivering amazing results can raise up the people around them.

 

 

Next Steps

This high-level list is just a starting point for what I hope will be the beginning of a lively and productive discussion, which will help shape the future of QA and testing.  

 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll take each of the 10 topics above and drill down into recommendations that I believe will help you move your testing organization forward.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I am representing my views based on my own 15 years of experience leading QA and Testing teams in multiple industries. While I now work for HP, I am in constant contact with QA professionals around the world. It is my personal mission to find new and better ways raise the levels of efficiency and effectiveness of QA and Testing. When it makes sense, I will point you to innovative ways that HP Software customers are handling modern IT challenges. 

 

So please join in the conversation and respond to this blog with suggestions based on your experience…we’ll all benefit from learning about your successes.

 

I hope to meet you in person at upcoming events including StarEast in Orlando (April 28 -May 3) and at HP Discover in Las Vegas ( June 11-13) and Barcelona (Dec 10-12)!

 

Follow me on Twitter @qacooper

 

For more information: http://www.hp.com/go/qualitycenter

 

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Comments
Brahmma | ‎05-10-2013 10:50 AM

Nice post... Really helpful..

Siva Kr Mamilla | ‎05-11-2013 10:29 AM

Nice Post... Really helpful..

NaveenKumar N | ‎05-12-2013 09:55 AM

Very insight information. 

 

Thank you!

NaveenKumar N

Christine Bark | ‎06-04-2013 12:12 PM

Great post!  I'm especially interested in #7 of your list.  What resources would you recommend to get more information on standardizing / simplifying testing processes, tools and methods?  Thanks!

Qader Faisal | ‎06-04-2013 08:40 PM

Well said, Very useful.

vdh | ‎06-04-2013 10:23 PM

As part of this discussion I am looking foward to new ideas and tools that can help decrease the QA Effort / Defects Identified ratio.

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About the Author
Michael Cooper is a leader in the fields of quality assurance (QA), software testing, and process improvement. In November 2012, Michael joi...
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