Improving Collaboration for Higher Quality Results

>>>Improving Collaboration for Higher Quality Results

Quality Assurance (QA) and Application Development teams often work in conjunction with one another. However, when two segregate teams attempt to work together on a project, oftentimes competition pursues. The goal for both teams is to produce a quality product with little to no defects. The goal can be overlooked, however, when one team tries to out perform the other. If the teams don’t communicate, costly issues arise. If not discussed prior to starting the project, the requirements document can be interpreted differently by the QA and Application Development teams. This has the potential to hinder defect findings or cause friction because the QA team may raise more defects than necessary or miss important defects which will become costly to fix later in project development. As a Principal Consultant for Application Development at a growing business and technology firm with both a QA and Application Development department, we have learned a few critical steps to ensure the teams take a collaborative approach to communicate and work together towards a common goal.

Our teams do not utilize the standard “hand it off” approach where Developers work on a project and then hand it off to QA and back to Development, etc. By working hand in hand from the beginning of the project, the doors to communication are opened. The QA and Development teams review the requirements document together to ensure that they are both on the same page. Any misunderstandings are straightened out in the beginning which drastically cuts down on costly defects appearing in the final stages of development, or even worse, after production.

Now, you may be thinking, “This is just an Application Developer’s perspective. I’m sure QA has another take that varies significantly.” Well, I also wanted to hear the perspective from one of our QA analysts so I went direct to the source and asked SDLC Consultant, Aaron Friez, for his input on communication and goal alignment. “I feel that the key to success when looking at it from the perspective of open communication is understanding. Success can only be achieved if we spend the necessary time putting ourselves in the other person(s) shoes. In any partnership you have common goals, so if we can get past the differences between how both sides may achieve those goals and focus on what both sides can do to help each other get there, we all benefit. The early collaboration process goes a long way to achieving that understanding. Right from the start both sides have the opportunity to introduce each other to their process.  This can clear up any preconceived expectations and build a foundation of knowledge and trust. Knowing how both teams plan to execute allows for proper alignment of goals and the teams are able to build confidence in one another. We all work differently and we all have different actions we take to complete a task. It is important to be clear in what you plan to achieve and what your expectations are for those around you so the project can move forward seamlessly.”

A recent example of our teams’ collaboration is a project we recently completed for a national healthcare insurer. Initially, SDLC Partners did not own the project and there was great turmoil – communication problems, extremely high level of defects, and of course, a client who was losing time and money due to the project inefficiencies. Our team took ownership and quickly turned the project around. We initiated weekly meetings, one internal and one with the client. During the internal meeting, the QA and Application Development team discussed any underlying issues and project concerns. Once the internal team was able to sort out the problems, we met with the client to make sure that we were all on the same page and envisioning the same end results. Our team was able to complete the first release in just 4 months. The end result was a 200% reduction in defects from the prior vendor. By working together effectively, we were also able to win additional client work and scheduled the second release.

My project example highlights how working for a common goal and openly communicating can create value for the client through delivery of quality results. Has your department experienced communication issues or felt rivalry between internal teams?  If so, how did you get back on track to achieve the desired results?

Raj Mankad is a Principal Consultant at SDLC Partners, a leading provider of business and technology solutions. Please feel free to contact Raj at rmankad@sdlcpartners.com with any questions on this blog post or to further discuss software testing.