How Comprehensive, Tightly Managed Web Application Testing Enabled PDS to Keep a Critical Commitment to Customers.
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- QA Common Sense
About Pharmacy Development Services
Pharmacy Development Services helps pharmacies develop critical and fundamental business principles that allow them to operate successfully. Their services, systems and software allow pharmacy owners to strategically plan and execute pharmacy-specific operational, training and marketing programs.
Event Deadline and a Project in Shambles
Pharmacy Development Services was in a difficult situation. They were trying to create a new member services platform to improve the way their clients access key information, cooperative resources, communities and connections.
The software project, dubbed PDS Advantage, was to replace an antiquated seven-year-old platform that wasn’t living up to the needs of their pharmacy clients.
After months of development, the look and feel of the new web application was on target, but the functionality wasn’t there yet. “It seemed like there were a lot of elements working . . until they didn’t,” said Kelley Babcock, Chief Operating Officer at PDS.
“It was difficult for me to sift through all the technical stuff and determine who needed to be responsible for what and who was letting us down on our team – both internally and externally.” The company’s marketing agency should have been conducting web application testing during the development process, but they overlooked some key people and process issues.
Adding to the stress, was that the new software needed to launch at their yearly business development conference in Orlando, Florida. The February conference was only a month away, and they had scheduled their CEO to be on stage, demonstrating the new software and promoting its virtues. Client attendees were already looking forward to the big reveal.
The crisis ramped up even more in early January, just a month away from the show. “It became painfully apparent to me that we didn’t have an internal project plan, and we lacked a scope of work that would allow us to confidently hit the milestones necessary for a show date launch.” explained Babcock. They also wanted to have PDS members try the solution right after the conference.
Our credibility and the reputation of our CEO and founder were on the line.
“If we failed to meet the show deadline, the level of customer dissatisfaction level would have been astronomical,” said Babcock. “That may sound melodramatic, but even if 20% to 30% of our members were highly dissatisfied, it would have been catastrophic. If we lost 20% of our member base, for example, that kind of outcome was just unthinkable to us.”
In early January, PDS sent up an SOS signal to TESTCo. “Our credibility and the reputation of our CEO and founder Dan Benamoz was on the line,” said Babcock. “Fortunately, the minute I raised the alarm, Dan said, ‘I know who we have to call immediately!’” Benamoz and TESTCo’s founder, Jeff Hotz, belong to the same business strategy group, so the timing and support relationship were impeccable.
The companies made the proper introductions, and things went into crisis management mode. Babcock led daily meetings to navigate TESTCo employees through the challenges at hand. “I was driving those meetings,” said Babcock. “In non-crisis times, the COO is usually not the one drilling down to that level.”
“I was protecting our dedication to the user experience,” she continued. TESTCo’s Cristina Nistor led a team of developers, strategists and web application testing experts to manage the project.
“Cristina and her team worked continually behind the scenes to make sure the member experience was seamless and flawless,” said Babcock. “Cristina was our white knight in shining armor.”
A Comprehensive Web Application Testing Solution
TESTCo made sure every link, every function and every click behaved exactly how it should in the PDS Advantage application. They tested the application on every known browser and device, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, desktops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, Androids and Windows Phones.
“I felt like the testing process was extremely comprehensive,” said Babcock. The project management software includes message boards, a resource library, implementation tools and internal communication features that each pharmacy can use. It’s pre-loaded with more than 40 turnkey programs designed specifically for pharmacists. If one of the pharmacies wants to implement a free children’s’ vitamin program, for example, the system makes it really easy. They search for ‘free children’s vitamins,’ and up comes a template with every step and resource needed to launch a comprehensive program. The resources include team training processes, marketing collateral, policies and more. All the user needs to do is search, download, assign tasks to their team and put a due date on the project.
“Our clients went to school to be pharmacists,” explained Babcock. “They didn’t go to school to become trainers, marketers, and operations managers. With our software solution, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel and do all heavy lifting on their own. That’s a huge benefit. They get to do what they do best – pharmacology.”
Just In Time
Even though they were working on a tight deadline and the tasks were highly technical, Babcock was easily able to follow their progress. “TESTCo put things into a language that was easy to understand and describe,” she said. “We were getting into the weeds, but our collaboration was delightful. You never thought about it as drudgery. I liked the personal connection.” That personal connection even went so far as to include changing languages. “When TESTCo found out that our marketing strategist for service delivery, Omar Avila, spoke Spanish, they started holding those meetings in Spanish, which was nice.”
When the PDS business development conference finally arrived, they were ready to go. CEO Benamoz took the stage and introduced the app, their marketing lead paced through some of the new features, and customers were able to test drive the new application right there at the show. “The confidence we felt was a direct result of TESTCo’s efforts,” said Babcock.
“Without that final push, we would have had to apologize, iterate and continue developing the software well past the conference,” said Babcock. “Because of TESTCo, we didn’t have to do that.”
Key: A Strong Project Lead
Babcock credits a lot of the project’s success to TESTCo QA Manager Cristina Nistor. “She’s highly competent with great attention to detail, follow through, and execution,” said Babcock. “She could look at our processes and people – all the moving parts of the project – and isolate, identify and advise on next steps. Her level of expertise allowed me to have confidence that we’d get it done right before the show.”
The weeks leading up to the business development conference were tense for all involved, but everything worked out. “It was an unparalleled, exceptional experience in terms of service, competency, and advisory guidance,” said Babcock. “We couldn’t have done it without the TESTCo’s web application testing team.”