Poor quality assurance is bad business. Top firms get it right.
When it comes to your digital business, quality assurance is essential to business process execution, but not always easy or fully successful. Since there are many areas in the software development life cycle (SDLC) in which defects and issues can insinuate themselves—ultimately resulting in poor business process quality and dissatisfied partners—top performing companies must implement the quality assurance function into enterprise systems to prevent quality issues at all points in the development life cycle.
There are four major attributes that must be considered in building a successful Quality Assurance framework.
1) Quality controls for defect prevention: Quality controls are put in place to assist project teams in determining the health of a project at each phase of the SDLC. For example, if you have a high requirements volatility rate (read: many changes) in the construction phase of an IT project, then the project manager will need to take the appropriate action to get control over requirements and scope changes. The requirements phase is the primary place to eliminate defects. It’s also the point in which defects are the cheapest to fix.
2) IT efficiency and effectiveness: A well-defined SDLC process provides the most efficient and effective way of accomplishing the work while maintaining a high level of quality. Quality Assurance is focused on developing and documenting these SDLC processes, as well as measuring and continuously improving them.
3) IT governance: If your team members aren’t following best practices in IT governance, then you will see little improvement in quality and efficiencies of IT. A governance framework is a vital activity to institutionalize these best practices, improve quality and to lower the overall IT operating costs.
4) Maturity assessments and continuous process improvement: Maturity assessments help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your abilities to meet the needs of business partners and provide detailed information on how to mature your capabilities. The best companies systematically and regularly look for areas to improve using well-established methodologies.
As mentioned, there are many entry points and SDLC phases where defects and issues can be introduced into an enterprise system. Often, these issues cannot be discovered by testing alone. The earlier a defect is discovered, the easier and cheaper it will be to correct and resolve.
In addition, once a defect enters production, business processes can be disrupted, profitability can suffer and customers can be adversely impacted. But, fortunately, the challenge can be overcome through automated business process validation. Automated business process validation can be used to capture the business process for functional testing purposes. Once captured, the business process automation can be run again and again for every test cycle to catch defects at the earliest possible point in every SDLC phase.
Ultimately, the pace of change in today’s technology landscapes requires that quality assurance processes find and fix defects—all defects—faster and without impact on operations.