In This Post
- Define Goals and Constraints
- Software Quality as a Goal
- Software Quality as a Constraint
- The “SMART” Goal
- Plans Vs. Planning
Why does it matter if a QA testing company, hired for a quick project, knows your goals and constraints for the project?
You know it needs to be tested, you’re already behind your plan and waiting for testing to be completed seems like a waste of time. You just need it done.
We’re frequently asked to “just get this tested out by tomorrow”. We can do that and we’re happy to do so. You’re in a rush, we know it and we want to be helpful to you.
But taking a few minutes up front can have a huge return.
Pause, Take a Deep Breath, Write Down Your Goals and Constraints
Just do a little bit of thinking about Goals and Constraints (or spend just a few minutes talking with us). You’ll dramatically increase your Certainty of Success. It works every time.
You’ll also get about 10X in increased value from the work of your QA testing company if you can explain your goal and/or constraint in a way they can understand and achieve.
All this can be a little tricky because software quality can be a goal or constraint – or both.
If you are clear about which one, you have an opportunity to either reduce your expenses or increase the return on your investment.
If you aren’t clear about which one, you’ll probably be disappointed with either the cost or the outcomes.
Software Quality as a Goal
If software quality is a goal, is it specific and how much are you prepared to invest to achieve your goal?
What return do you expect for your investment after the QA testing company finishes the project?
For example, “No critical defects” is a software quality goal. “No customer-found defects” is another, but different, software quality goal.
One of these goals focuses on the types of defects and the other focuses on the availability and likelihood of defects. They appear similar but require different software testing approaches. Not all QA testing companies can recognize or build a strategy and plan to achieve these goals.
If your selected QA testing company isn’t clear on this type of goal, you’ll get as much testing as you can afford but you might not achieve your goal.
This is why it’s important to define and measure your software quality goals. Both defining and measuring your software quality goals are vital to assessing software quality as a goal. In regards to defining your goals, one of the first things you can do is to figure out if the testing is sufficient. Without enough testing on your product, the quality of software will be inferior by default. Some quality goals you can strive for in your software include:
- Reducing the number of non-executed test cases (ideally 0)
- High severity on open bugs/total bugs
- Un-targeted bugs
The metrics provided by these quality goals can determine the overall quality of the software for your application.
Software Quality as a Constraint
If software quality is a constraint, what is the most you’ll spend and the minimum you’d accept?
Will meeting the constraints be sufficient to achieve your business goals? You don’t want to come up short.
For example, “No previous features broken” is a type of goal and constraint. “Must fail gracefully without data loss” is another type of constraint.
Your unique constraints have an impact on the type of software testing strategy that your QA testing company chooses. Some constraints are very easy to accommodate and others can be a real challenge. Many QA testing companies skip this step and wind up disappointing their clients when they fail to achieve the goal AND the constraint.
When Software Quality is Both a Goal and a Constraint
When software quality is both a goal and a constraint, how will you measure the boundaries of expense versus investment?
If you limit your expense as a constraint, will the investment be sufficient to achieve your goal?
Yeah, those are some tough questions. It really helps to have a trusted QA testing company as a partner to discuss the scenarios and risks.
What is Your Quality Goal or Constraint?
If you don’t know, you’re not alone – most of our clients don’t have a clear idea when they first come to us for help.
At TESTCo, we prefer the “SMART” goal format and can easily help you “sharpen” your quality goal.
When software quality is viewed as a constraint, you should be able to clearly define the limits. We see this frequently with new clients, “We need this tested within X days and for $Y price, can you do that?” At TESTCo, we work with this situation frequently.
What is a SMART Goal?
Smart Goals are built on the S.M.A.R.T Criteria and stands for:
– Results Focused (or Relevant)
– Time Bound
If you’ll use this short checklist when writing your goal, you will reduce the amount of time you need to build a good goal and your QA testing company will have an easier time understanding and achieving it for you.
Why Do I Need a SMART Goal?
You don’t need a SMART goal for working with a QA testing company, but if you can build one, you’ll get much more value and have better outcomes than if you don’t build a Smart Goal.
Many QA testing companies are happy to work for you without any goal at all. The problem that occurs without a goal is that all you can get is some testing activity and a list of defects.
While that sounds OK, you can and should expect more. Just testing and reporting defects can’t tell you much about the quality of your software or the team building your software. The most it can tell you is that you do have software defects.
If you do have a goal and you find one of the few QA testing companies that can help you achieve your goal, you’ll be rewarded with software testing, a list of defects and best of all, some real metrics, feedback and advice on specifically where you stand towards achieving your goal. Additionally, you’ll get expert consulting advice on how you can more easily achieve your goals in the future.
Otherwise, and without a goal, you’ll just get some testing and a list of defects.
The SMART goal format is advantageous because it provides measurable and detailed goals that account for both quality goals and any constraints you might have. This is extremely beneficial because if you fall short of your SMART goal, there is an objective reason as to why and you can know exactly what you need to fix. Meeting with TESTCo QA managers or senior test engineers can be helpful when crafting a SMART goal for your project. After discussing with the TESTCo team, everyone is on the same page as to what exactly the goals are for a given project. With the assistance of the daily reports provided by QA managers, you can track the progress that you are making towards achieving your SMART goal on a daily basis.
Plans Vs. Planning
Goals are used to create plans that are clear so that everyone on the team can help achieve the common goal. Plans are frequently seen as very important since they are typically used to measure the progress of a project – especially a QA testing project when everyone is waiting anxiously for the launch! At TESTCo, we’re experts at building plans and here’s why. QA testing projects very seldom run exactly according to plan. Why? Primarily because testing is done at or near the end of a project and there’s ALWAYS something else that someone wants included in the current release.
And, that’s fine. We’re bigger fans of Planning than Plans because we’ve learned that the critical thinking required to formulate and build a plan is the most valuable aspect of the plan. What? Yeah, it’s the thinking behind the plan rather than the plan itself that’s most important.
At some point, your QA testing plan is probably going to blow up when you least expect it. If your QA testing company doesn’t have planning experts or experience, how will you ever get your software project launched?
Planning allows for adjustments to be made for your project and it allows the QA team to be more agile. If a project doesn’t go according to a specific plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean it failed. Since QA tests don’t always go according to plan, it’s better to sit with the QA team and do a rough outline instead of coming with a specific, detailed plan. The QA manager and senior test engineers will help provide a roadmap for your application in order to aim for the best release time for your application.
Why All These Hard Questions?
At TESTCo, we have a strong team of experienced and talented software test engineers. We can “point” those talented engineers at almost any goal and they will achieve it. They like this a lot! We can also ask them to “just test it”. They don’t like this as much but they’ll do it gladly.
If we understand your goal, we can help you achieve it.
If we understand your constraint, we can meet it.
If we know both, we can deliver the “Sweet Spot” – high quality that delights your customers and a cost that delights your CFO.
Curious about avoiding pitfalls of outsourced software testing? This article highlights some important lessons.
The point of asking these thought-provoking questions is to help both you and TESTCo reach your software quality goals. By critically assessing factors like goal settings, key performance indicators and other metrics, a better strategy can be designed for your application. If you’re having a difficult time answering a question about your application, this is a great discussion point because the TESTCo engineers and QA managers will help you identify root causes of issues and solve them.
It’s also important for you to compile your most relevant and pertinent questions before you meet the QA team. This doesn’t have to be a long list of questions, but you should bring up the most pressing questions in regards to your application. These questions can be based on turnaround time, bug-related, functionality testing, performance testing and more. By asking questions that are specific to your application and the goals pertaining to it, you can give the QA team a better understanding of your needs.
This QA Testing Company Will Get the Right Answers in 45 Minutes
Our Scoping Process, a 45-minute conversation with you about what is important to you and your project, is designed to clarify your goals and constraints so that we have a perfectly clear picture of exactly what you need and want.
If you’re talking with a QA company and they aren’t asking about your goals and constraints, please give me a call and I’ll help you figure them out – and then achieve them! Here’s my number, 888-254-9709