Is your QA outsourcing partner helping you track software defects? Do you know the status of the test plan on a daily basis? By track I mean are they providing a concise scorecard that is meaningful to you and the development team?
Tracking your software defects is important and valuable, but just tracking the features and defects (you are using your defect tracking for new features, aren’t you?) is not enough to improve how you build software.
When Scorecards Help Development and Testing
Here are some potential problems that you might be struggling with that can be solved with a scorecard.
The QA Outsourcing Team Doesn’t Know Your Software Quality or Production Goals
A lack of focus and clarity is the #1 reason most goals are not achieved. A scorecard can quickly uncover who doesn’t know or understand your most critical criteria – your goals! This same scorecard can also show you, every day, exactly who is focusing their effort to achieve your goal. The goals should be clear and concise and re-written in the scorecard every day. Each person’s plan should show you the steps and outcomes that will be accomplished each day in pursuit of achieving your goal. You should be able to read and understand each step towards the achievement of your goals. If it doesn’t make sense, a scorecard makes it easy to see and make adjustments that day so you can get the project or person back on track to achieve your software quality and production goals.
Your Team Doesn’t Have a Daily Plan
A scorecard can record each person’s daily plan. A daily scrum or stand-up meeting is not a plan. The true value in a plan lies in the work and thinking that created the plan. A plan is simply a measure of the amount and quality of thinking that produced the plan. Without a daily plan, you are relying on luck and fleeting good intentions to accomplish your goals.
Your Team Doesn’t Have a Daily Summary
A scorecard can record each person’s daily summary. A daily summary can provide every person on the team with an insight into coordinating their work with everyone else on the team. Without a daily summary, the rest of the team is left to guess (or infer from the daily standup the next morning) exactly what was accomplished and if their dependent work can proceed.
Your Team Finds Blocking Issues
Their work can’t continue until someone else clears some sort of blockage. Blockers occur every day – it is the nature of fast paced software development. But, without score carding blockers, their frequency, resolution and cost can’t be determined – and you’re doomed to continue facing them at inconvenient moments!
Your Team “Pushes” to Meet the Goal
This frequently occurs in the world of software development and is probably the biggest reason software teams make mistakes! A simple scorecard from every member of the team could have alerted everyone else to the time crunch issue way before it occurred. A little forward notice could have prevented the “push” and the corresponding wasted energy by the rest of the team.
The solution is simple – use a daily scorecard from each member of your software development team – at a minimum from your software QA team since they are the prime “measures” of your software quality and production capacity.
The Problem with Scorecards and QA Outsourcing
Most people do not want to be measured or judged. And yet, measurement, analysis and correction is the cornerstone of ANY production process or quality assurance method. Think about it – if you can’t (or won’t) measure it, how can you ever be sure – of anything? Would you want to drive a car, bake a cake or raise your family in a home that wasn’t inspected and measured/scored for quality while it was being built? Yeah, not really, so why would you tolerate that in your software project?
Most software QA outsourcing companies and their testers do not want to be measured. The perception is that bad things will happen so ignoring measurement extends the work for another day – in the shadows…
Ask your software QA Outsourcing vendor for their scorecards. If you’re talking with TESTCo, we’ll happily share our scorecards with you. If you’re talking to someone else – expect crickets….
The QA Outsourcing Team Should be Providing the Scorecard
At TESTCo, we issue report/scorecards twice daily. The morning report/scorecard reports the daily plan and establishes the most important metrics and outcomes for the day. It also has target values for each metric or outcome. The evening report/scorecard reports the daily actual production metrics, plan completions and adjustments, any blockers waiting resolution and statistics on the most important daily metrics and outcomes. These twice-daily reports are distributed to the QA Manager and anyone else that may be interested or connected to the workflow.
The true value of a plan is the planning. Planning is the process of moving from your current state to a desired state – a goal. Moving from one state to another requires measurement. Daily measurement of critical outcomes is required to achieve your goal as efficiently as possible.
A final thought on twice-daily reports. I always get pushback from my Test Engineers when I initially ask them for twice-daily reports. It looks like a big hassle! But, being perfectly clear on goals and status, twice each day, quickly turns them into big fans of daily scorecards because they know they are highly valuable and efficient engineers – the twice daily scorecard give them the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and drive to their customers and managers. TESTCo Test Engineers very quickly become fans of scorecards because it gives them the feedback they seek to become even better at delivering the value they are committed to. Just ask one if you don’t believe me! For other client comments, check out our testimonials page.
What sort of project should you assign to a new outsourced software QA company? I invite you to read my post on this topic; the recommendation may surprise you.