What Can QA Do for You?
When people outside IT circles hear the phrase “Quality Assurance,” or “QA,” they often think of a Henry Ford-era assembly line or of engineers examining and testing endless amounts of data. QA is a bit of both: scrutiny of a product that’s subject to repetitive computer-based testing before the final, perfected model is ready. QA’s substantial testing along with its scrupulous oversight helps ensure that the configured product follows the business requirements and functions per the stated specifications. In short, an outcome-based focus. Include transparency and a quality-focused client partnership, and you have the value-add of QA: a crucial testing and oversight process that will support and protect a business’ reputation.
The QA Starting Line
Fundamental to QA is its project team’s collective quality-focused mindset. The quality of the implementation is the responsibility of all involved, including SMEs, decision-makers, and other key staff. This communal obligation is the foundation of the project, with quality-focused frameworks, tools, and governance models added at each sprint. From there, most QA comes down to two primary elements: data and a “shift-left” mindset. The best QA practices prioritize and measure quality KPI data at each stage of the implementation and incorporate it immediately into decision making, while the “shift-left” mindset refers to the early placement of both issue/risk detection and correction as far left as possible in the project timeline. By shifting left from the start, project teams first determine how all end users, partner systems, and other key stakeholders intend to interact with the system, and incorporate those perspectives into the solutioning, development, and testing processes early and often. The selected KPIs provide guardrails along the way that help take subjectivity out of readiness assessments, find issues, and prevent costly errors for smooth user acceptance testing (UAT) and a seamless go-live. Going forward, QA’s repeated testing validates core solutions, system calculations, inbound and outbound interfaces, and system-generated reports, and will pay future dividends as the client adopts new product features and functions as part of future upgrades.
The QA Payoff
After numerous rounds of testing, QA best practices mandate that project teams do not lose sight of the project’s future state and focus on how clients will use the system in the months and years ahead. To do so, project teams develop a library of business-driven regression tests that match the client’s expected results and are as automated as possible to capitalize on speed and accuracy. This test library of quality measures and the “shift-left” achieved during the implementation can be used repeatedly, especially when the client adopts new product features and functions as part of future upgrades.
QA provides a concrete understanding of the functionality and quality of new products. When applied to solution upgrades, the QA approach helps to balance project development with vigorous testing, to embed quality throughout the project lifecycle. So what can QA do for you? Establish a clear, KPI-driven focus of quality outcomes, mitigate project risk, greatly increase the chance of product success, and establish user trust for a long-term, mutually beneficial future.