The client, a privately-held company, develops web sites as a service focusing mainly on eCommerce implementations for high-tech supply firms. Their clients want feature-rich sites that support rapidly changing marketing promotions, customer-specific special offers and product mixes. They run as many as five simultaneous development projects and need to carefully manage project deliveries in order to avoid staff allocation bottlenecks.
They took on a project that was substantially larger in scope than their previous work and brought in a third-party management group to assure completion of all objectives and on-time delivery.
The client and the management group saw this situation as both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity was to expand the reach of the client’s development processes. The challenge was to develop the capability to create extensive sites without creating personnel voids in their other projects. A large part of this consideration was the fact that QA work on the projects was performed largely by test personnel whose skill sets were limited to comparing pages to content copy and verifying links.
This meant that, as defects were found and reported, development engineers had to verify them, troubleshoot down to the functional and code levels and then correct them. On smaller projects this was troublesome but not an excessive drain on the development staff. With a large project, there was a significant risk that too much development engineer time would be diverted to troubleshooting and, worse, defects in the complex middle-ware structures that the project required might go undetected by simplistic test processes.
The expansion of the QA function to perform operational verification of the middle-ware functions and troubleshooting defects to the modular if not code level was the obvious solution. The problem with that solution was the lack of readily-available, high-skill-level QA engineers. Qualified candidates for these positions were extremely difficult to find, and staffing up the client’s company to meet the schedule for this project was not a viable path. The management group contacted QualityLogic to investigate bringing in a third-party quality service to fulfill their requirement for highly skilled QA personnel and a short ramp-up time.
QualityLogic took advantage of involvement at the beginning of the development project to immediately assign a project manager and senior QA engineer to put together an operational plan. They began with a thorough review of the design specifications and interviews with the assigned development staff. The input from these efforts went into an SQA Plan, which became a roadmap for the QA effort to support the project. That plan was approved by the management group and then presented to the client’s customer as an integral part of the project documentation.
A key aspect of QualityLogic’s initial effort was the use of their long experience in high-end web site QA to rapidly assess what needed to be done to support the client’s development project. Just as important was the ability to quickly deploy senior QA engineers to start working on those requirements immediately.
The QualityLogic team started work with the engineering development staff on the first day of the project, helping create QA server images of development and production environments and arranging access into the necessary back-end systems. As the development ramped up, the QA engineers created test plans and cases directly from the page and module designs so they were ready to start testing as soon as the code was released for verification.
QualityLogic’s QA engineers kept pace with developers, supplying them with defect reports that drilled down to root causes rather than just listing symptoms. In cooperation with the management group, QualityLogic’s project manager quickly scaled QA staffing to match the development group’s output and verify that defect detection and correction rates were on track to meet the schedule.
Regardless of the size of your business, revenue or customer base, one thing remains the same: staying focused on your core competency is critical to success. For this client, success required managed QA services of superior quality and value, enabling them to focus on their core business.