Do QA Practices Deliver the Highest Business Value?

A QA team today faces many new challenges related to faster project deliveries, higher user expectations, rapid changing technologies and support around-the-clock. The role of the QA team is no longer to simply ensure that the product is delivered defect-free. But now-a-days, QA must also support the organization's strategic business goals and deliver business value…

A QA team today faces many new challenges related to faster project deliveries, higher user expectations, rapid changing technologies and support around-the-clock.

The role of the QA team is no longer to simply ensure that the product is delivered defect-free. But now-a-days, QA must also support the organization's strategic business goals and deliver business value through software testing practices. We call this Business Value QA.

It is important to follow more mature Quality Assurance processes, that are designed keeping the following aspects in mind:

  1. From Business Perspective, the QA team needs to understand the business process that a particular application supports and can also be designed based on the criticality of business needs, thus optimizing QA efforts.
  2. From End-user's Perspective, the QA team must follow those software testing best practices that ensure the best user experience.
  3. From Analytics, become more relevant to measure and monitor the business benefits of the Quality Assurance methods and practices, rather than just monitoring testing metrics. This helps to further improve the QA practices and make them more mature.

Traditionally, QA would detect flaws, but had no way to predict their future occurrence. In business value QA projects, analytics are used to predict possible defects. In Business Value QA, the objective is to prevent defects from occurring.

How do Business Value QA projects differ from traditional QA projects?

Traditionally, QA projects were designed from the QA team's perspective. Now, the business function's perspective is the center of focus. This means a change from testing functional requirements to business requirements.

Traditionally, QA would detect flaws, but had no way to predict their future occurrence. In business value QA projects, analytics are used to predict possible defects. In Business Value QA, the objective is to prevent defects from occurring.

In the traditional approach, testing plans were created so as to achieve the maximum test coverage. However, in Business Value QA projects, risk based testing is used to achieve the maximum coverage in the most optimal time. Metrics to determine the effectiveness of the QA are related to the business and not just the testing function. Traditionally, QA service providers would work on a fixed price or time-based model, but with Business Value QA, the service provider may work as a partner and price based on defined outcomes.

Techniques to develop Business Value QA practices –

  • Collaborative approach: Involving the various quakeholders, and having clear communications at every stage,
  • Lean approach: Focus on faster go-to-market by eliminating inefficiencies and delays in the system.
  • Early validation: Validation early in the life cycle can ensure that business requirements are fulfilled at the system level, before integration of the whole. This reduces testing costs as defects are identified earlier.
  • Automation: Planning for automation at the design stage helps to get a better ROI.
  • Reuse: Artefacts from a previous release in regression testing can be reused to improve productivity.
  • Advanced techniques: The use of techniques such as risk-based testing, intelligent test data management and defect prediction leads to better test coverage and productivity.

An organization can gain from the Business Value delivered by the QA function if all stakeholders understand the business perspective, and there is open communication at all stages. The gains are splendid and include better product quality, faster project deliveries and optimized testing efforts. Here, there is a need for testing practices to evolve into more matured ones that deliver real Business Value.