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G E T T I N G P R E D I C TA B L E .

C O M

Quality Assurance: Band-Aid Fix or Vaccine Cure to


Software Projects, Part 1
By Ketan Patel, Quality Analyst

If Quality Assurance is intended to be a vaccine to projects, then why is it so often being used as a
Band-Aid?
In our daily life, we take preventative measures such as flu vaccines early in a season to avoid, eliminate, and/or to reduce
chances to get sick. This is similar to QA being part of a software development project early on in order to reduce defects
and minimize project duration and cost. Unlike a conventional testing approach ( which merely reacts to whatever has
been designed or developed and frequently is perceived as interfering with development), QA’s role early in the Software
Development Cycle helps improve predictability and makes development faster, and less aggravating.

During my career, I have seen QA teams that are “shared resources” supporting many projects simultaneously rather
than dedicated to specific projects. Huge armies of QA teams execute defined test cases/scripts to test and certify an
application once development is complete. Because QA team members lack application familiarity and test only at the end
of the development lifecycle, they require significant execution support. Often, the feedback they provide is late in coming
and often inaccurate.

The Value of the Vaccine Approach


Compare this to a vaccine approach where the QA team is dedicated for the duration of the software development project
and testers are co-located with the business and development team. Because they collaborate with the development team
on formulating acceptance criteria and engage in testing continuously through development, they can spot the commonly-
overlooked showstopper problem. Now, QA feedback is considered as timely and relevant and a value added partner in
delivery. This increases the efficiency of the software development process and the effectiveness of solutions produced.

We all have our examples of exciting projects turned into nightmares. Creeping deadlines, tsunamis of defects, applications
that fail to deploy or performance bottlenecks that just cannot be found. Unfortunately, these kinds of situations always
occur at times when they are least welcome - right before the project deadline, during the holiday season or when you had
planned that nice weekend getaway. Most of these nightmares can be eliminated if QA is not considered a band-aid (rather
than a vaccine fix) and is involved throughout the project lifecycle.

The Risks of the Band-Aid Approach


There are many operational risks with Band-Aid approach. It assumes that the test cases are of high quality, and that feedback
is timely and actionable. These are unwarranted assumptions. Like any IT artifact, test cases may be ambiguous or confusing
to testers (of poor technical construction) or they don’t test what needs to be tested (of poor functional construction). Since
QA leads are shared across several applications, there are chances of error in writing test cases. Being part-time on every
project, the QA team is forced to work independently from the development team. Test Cases/Scripts are written to abstract
specifications in the early stages (that is, before software is ready to be tested), and executed in much later stages of a
project (e.g., once development is complete). They are not written in conjunction with the development of the software,
or in full collaboration with development. Also, the development team is often not made aware of specific QA and UAT
acceptance criteria, nor does it receive testing feedback, until very late stages of a project.

There is financial risk as well. This approach emphasizes unit-cost efficiency of test execution over a holistic approach to
quality assurance. On a test-cases-that-can-be-executed-per-person basis this model looks attractive, but to be cost-
effective, there must be low overhead of execution. The greater the effort required to stage testing activity (e.g., with test
data or instructions to carryout testing), or to interpret the results of testing performed, the greater cost of execution.

What approach does your IT organization have to QA?

Next week, I will take a closer look at why you should consider a more holistic, Vaccine approach to QA and testing.

More »
G E T T I N G P R E D I C T A B L E . C O M 2

About the Author


Ketan Patel, Quality Analyst

Ketan Patel is an accomplished software professional veteran with deep expertise in software test architecture, test
automation framework theory and execution, release management, project management, and software development
lifecycle and Quality Assurance process enhancement.

Ketan has diverse industries experience in roles that range from project leadership for large corporations such as Lucent
Technologies to start-up organizations. Prior to his role as Senior Quality Assurance Lead at Geneca, Ketan was Quality
Assurance and Release Manager at Kaplan Financial, an education content and BPO partner for insurance and financial
organizations.

Ketan has been involved in all areas of the Systems Development Life Cycle and has driven quality assurance, product
development and business analysis teams to successful software deployments.

About Geneca
Chicago-based custom software development firm, Geneca, helps its clients meet their business challenges by bringing
predictability to the software development process. Getting PredictableSM, Geneca’s pioneering approach to Requirements
Definition and Management, has an outstanding success rate in helping its clients drive clear business alignment by
identifying project objectives and success criteria. Learn more about Getting PredictableSM and Geneca’s other software
services at www.geneca.com.

This blog was originally posted on www.gettingpredictable.com on December 13, 2010. Visit www.gettingpredictable.com
for more information and to engage in the conversation.

Geneca Headquarters Voice: 630 599-0900 General: info@geneca.com


1815 S. Meyers Road, Fax: 630 599-0908 Sales: sales@geneca.com
Suite 950 Toll Free: 877 436-3224 Careers: jobs@geneca.com
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 www.geneca.com Press: press@geneca.com

© 2010. Geneca LLC. All Rights Reserved.


G E T T I N G P R E D I C TA B L E . C O M

Quality Assurance: Band-Aid Fix or Vaccine Cure to


Software Projects, Part 2
By Ketan Patel, Quality Analyst

The Vaccine Approach to a Software Development Project: QA as a Value Added Partner


Last week, I talked about the risks that go hand-in-hand with the Bandaid approach to QA. With the vaccine approach,
QA is not seen as overhead or a bottleneck. Instead, it is a value added partner that brings transparency and visibility in
software development predictability.

Significantly different than the Band-Aid approach, in the vaccine approach the QA team is dedicated, full-time participants
within software development teams. They are co-located and work collaboratively with both the business and developers.
Acceptance criteria is defined in collaboration with the business and integrated with requirements. This provides significant
advantage over the “Band-Aid” approach to testing, both within projects and across the enterprise application portfolio.

The Vaccine approach to QA provides more than operational benefits. It strengthens both the delivery team and the QA
function overall. Being embedded with and dedicated to a development team, QA people are immersed in the business
problem as well as the solution while it is being developed. Being fluent in the application, a tester is more likely to
recognize the difference between an application failure and an environmental or situational blocker, and better prepared to
correct the situation. As a result, they are less likely to raise false defect reports that create “noise” that masks the state of
application quality and impairs team efficiency by wasting other people’s time in disposition.

This approach also protects QA leaders. When able to work only part-time in any given project, QA can do little more than
produce testing artifacts and perform tactical execution. Working in full collaboration with a project development team,
however, allows the QA team to gain deep business knowledge. A QA team that is immersed in the problem domain is in
good position to be IT knowledge workers. This makes them better business problem solvers, and stronger participants in
IT solution delivery overall.

Engaged Participant vs. Disengaged Auditor


The intended deliverable of any IT project is a technically sound, functionally fit business solution. This is achieved through
the engaged participation of all IT disciplines, including infrastructure, requirement, development, and QA. By only playing
the role of auditor, QA is a disengaged member of the solution team that certifies an application as production-ready.
Alternatively, by collaborating from the early stages of the software development lifecycle, and executing QA continuously
throughout, QA works as a value-added partner that directly contributes to an increased understanding and gradual
evolution of a business solution. Ultimately, this approach increases both the value of QA and the return on IT investments.

What steps can your team take to move from a bandaid approach to a more holistic approach to QA and testing?

More »
G E T T I N G P R E D I C T A B L E . C O M 2

About the Author


Ketan Patel, Quality Analyst

Ketan Patel is an accomplished software professional veteran with deep expertise in software test architecture, test
automation framework theory and execution, release management, project management, and software development
lifecycle and Quality Assurance process enhancement.

Ketan has diverse industries experience in roles that range from project leadership for large corporations such as Lucent
Technologies to start-up organizations. Prior to his role as Senior Quality Assurance Lead at Geneca, Ketan was Quality
Assurance and Release Manager at Kaplan Financial, an education content and BPO partner for insurance and financial
organizations.

Ketan has been involved in all areas of the Systems Development Life Cycle and has driven quality assurance, product
development and business analysis teams to successful software deployments.

About Geneca
Chicago-based custom software development firm, Geneca, helps its clients meet their business challenges by bringing
predictability to the software development process. Getting PredictableSM, Geneca’s pioneering approach to Requirements
Definition and Management, has an outstanding success rate in helping its clients drive clear business alignment by
identifying project objectives and success criteria. Learn more about Getting PredictableSM and Geneca’s other software
services at www.geneca.com.

This blog was originally posted on www.gettingpredictable.com on December 28, 2010. Visit www.gettingpredictable.com
for more information and to engage in the conversation.

Geneca Headquarters Voice: 630 599-0900 General: info@geneca.com


1815 S. Meyers Road, Fax: 630 599-0908 Sales: sales@geneca.com
Suite 950 Toll Free: 877 436-3224 Careers: jobs@geneca.com
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181 www.geneca.com Press: press@geneca.com

© 2010. Geneca LLC. All Rights Reserved.