Maintaining Quality with a Remote Workforce
Whether working for a large corporation, consulting as part of a team or teaching the nation’s schoolchildren and university students, operating remotely has become a familiar scenario. The fact is that while many of us are familiar with the remote environment, others have become the experts – perhaps none more than IT departments and technology consultants catering to every sector and every industry in the world. So, how do you maintain quality while your workforce and your partners are working remotely? QualityLogic believes that a proactive approach has proven vital in our success through the current challenges.
Building a Solid Infrastructure
While QualityLogic operates at our onsite labs and in specialized environments, we realized early on that it was important to be embedded into our client’s entire QA process. So, even though we are not working at our client’s physical locations, we are still integrated as a “remote” partner.
Those relationships have enabled us to become experts at handling challenges that arise from offsite locations across the nation and the world. Those challenges can include both functionality and user experience. For example, it is critical while working remotely to focus on maintaining the quality of test planning for a high rate of release (function) as well as monitoring unexpected behaviors within product integration (user experience). Those are just two examples of the work we do that inform the necessary strategies in a remote workflow.
In developing those strategies, QualityLogic recognized the need for a strong infrastructure at our physical locations to deliver the best service to clients located all over the country. Our efforts in building a successful infrastructure took into account, multiple labs working together through consistent plans, processes, and communications.
We found it imperative to make sure there was clear and constant communication as well as consistent business practices at both lab locations. It was also vital to develop a workflow that could integrate easily into both locations so engineers could highlight findings and then share easily with developers no matter where they were located. That approach and infrastructure have lent itself well to the remote model we have used for years and continue to use today.
The 3 Cs for Effective On-Demand QA
The agile development process is generally standard in the service we provide because it allows for multiple releases in support of continuous integration. However, while a flexible service model can help you deliver better quality software from the start — adaptability can also help ensure the quality of your ongoing output, especially if your company is reliant on a remote workforce. Using a tailored approach that provides support for agile and lean development environments starts with the three Cs.
While continuity could very well be the fourth C, we see it as integral in all aspects of business, starting with communications. Team members, no matter where they are located, must be up to date on the status of any project, not just daily, but by the minute. Effective strategies should include real-time communications tools like Slack for immediate project updates, questions, or feedback. For testing results that need to be tracked and recorded in writing, we have found Google Sheets to be a great tool. It also provides a way for everyone to access changes, results, or reports online and in real-time. Additionally, QualityLogic supports the communications process by attending sprint planning and standup meetings (remotely) to ensure clear direction and consistent dialogue. Teams are also unrelenting in their constant communication between those testing and those in development.
To maximize efficiencies in the testing process, QualityLogic has designed a workflow support system that aligns with the client’s daily work schedule. This collaborative system allows the developers to have continuous support from the QA team which in turn, allows for a more dynamic and real-time workflow. QualityLogic also supports the client during product releases occurring outside of normal working hours. In an effort to deliver seamless and transparent client support, the QA team is part of the release process from initial design through to the final production push.
Internally at QualityLogic, cooperation within teams and collaboration between everyone is the key to maintaining productive results as a singular unit, especially when teams are working remotely or in separate labs. A transparent and holistic approach is vital for a sustainable and seamless testing experience, helping to ensure that clients are moving forward without delay or distraction.
One of the most important aspects of a successful business—and one that is too often taken for granted—is the company culture. Without a strong and clear culture, it is impossible to build the continuity necessary for a seamless engagement no matter what the company is delivering. While the feasibility of testing remotely may seem like the priority at hand, a healthy culture is the foundation of all business practices. The ability to create connections and nurture relationships is dependent on a company culture that demonstrates not only who we are and what we are as a business, but also the “why”.
Culture is how we think and how we do. It’s the nuts and bolts of the business. Our nuts and bolts thinking, and a consistent approach must be embraced by everyone that works with us. Our philosophy is that if you hire the right people, provide them with a good foundation of the nuts and bolts, and then let them do their job, the company and the client will excel.
Living in a Different World
We are living in a different world where the quality of business output is now more important than ever, and as more businesses choose to outsource their QA needs, QualityLogic has been proactive in building continuity within teams by providing access to the knowledge, the technology, and the process that is required to be an effective and reliable partner. We are confident that as our testing capabilities continue to expand and the remote context for the work we do shifts if we employ a personal approach and the three Cs, combined with technology experts and world-class labs, the standards for our own quality will enhance our client’s quality.