Friday, 10 January 2014

Test Process Improvement

Problem: Process Improvement without clear priorities and goals will fail

Many organizations do not have sufficient transparency in the test processes deployed and the result of this investment, this makes it hard to deliver the expected result to the business. Much like hiking you require a map, a compass, your destination and most importantly your current location – Without known location and clear goals you will get lost, no matter whether you are hiking or doing process improvement.

Solution: Test Process improvement based on maturity assessments.

Why do maturity assessments?
The test maturity assessments are done in order to guide, develop and prioritize the improvement initiatives in the organization. It allows you to work on your initiatives on a strategic, tactical and operational level in a controlled manner.

·        Create common foundation and visibility on vision and goals for test and QA.
·        Create understanding and commitment for test and quality in the organization.
·        Get insight on cost of quality and RoI in the projects
·        Serve as a communication and governance tool.
·        Set priorities for the initiatives.
·        Guide the initiatives in a controlled manner.
·        Improve process and competences.
·        Optimize use of resources
·        Reduce waste in projects
·        Streamline test effort and approach.

When is a maturity assessment needed?

·        If there is an increased need for streamlining of effort and process. E.g. when complexity increases in IT, dependencies on key resources, use of external resources, working with external partners, offshoring of development and test.

·        Deteriorating quality in the deliveries. E.g. Lots of defects in production, cost escalation, lack of confidence in deliveries, economic consequences to the business.

·        There is a need for information to do decision-making, prioritizing new initiatives etc.

·        Projects are high risk and of a critical nature.

What tools are available? What are the methods?
There are a lot of tools and methods you can use to do maturity assessments, such as TPI, TMMI, CMMI, ISO etc. It really doesn’t matter which one you use as long as it sets the boundaries and priorities for the effort and secure a holistic approach to the improvement activities.

What does it take to get started?
I use TPI (Test Process Improvement) developed by Sogeti, it consists of a field test tool that allows you to make the assessment based on interviews of key people in the organization. The result generates an overview of the situation, and gives a framework that allows a controlled and prioritized approach to improving quality.

The details about how-to is described in the book “TPI NEXT – Business Driven Test Process Improvement“ (ISBN 90-72194-97-7). Read the book and play with the tool, it is a small investment that gives a lot in return. Try answering the questions in the questionnaire, and you will get an instant result.

The TPI materials can be found here:

A word of advice if you are the slightest in doubt about if you can answer positive to a question then it should be no, and that translates into something that you should look into. Using the questionnaire in projects, interviewing people like project manager, test manager, lead developer and business test persons will in the matter of hours give you a clear view of ‘state of the nation’. For starters, you only need to look at the controlled level, which should give you plenty of observations to work on.

Happy testing!



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