It seems like every organization today has an initiative named Digital Transformation, but the truth is that every business is in the midst of a digital transformation journey, it’s becoming a way of life for technology to follow and continue to support the constant evolution. needs and capabilities in the digital world.

Complicating matters is the sheer number of offerings and breadth of technology solutions and consulting firms available to accompany and support the transformation. Not to mention all the recommended processes, tools and practices; from Dev-Ops & Agile, to Cloud & SaaS solutions, to Artificial Intelligence capabilities, while supporting the complexity of your current environment.

So no matter where you are (and the sooner the better), it’s important to inject quality into all aspects of your organization’s journey. First, there are a few interpretations of what QE (Quality Engineering) is or encompasses; some are not much different from what QA (quality assurance) is, but with a bit more attention and involvement in business and project management throughout the life cycle, others Viewpoints go in the direction of ‘technical’ and ‘engineering’ capabilities and focus on the inclusion of capabilities around automation and performance etc.

I want to introduce the idea of EQ as a concept that a quality engineering group should take a holistic view of quality and is best implemented as a quality governance model that oversees all aspects of technology and quality cycles life of products/software. This can best be described by making it a logical step in the evolution of testing; Initially, software or product quality was measured by testing at the end of the product life cycle, and from there (with far too many influences and process improvements to mention) the idea of QA became the norm for assuring quality and this included “shifting left” a lot of validation/quality testing.

From there, the Gold Standard rose to the level of a AQ-COE (QA Center of Excellence) where the processes and practices used could be measured to show excellence in capabilities and results. The evolution of QA to QE as a governance and guidance model is much more useful/powerful as it allows a QE organization to oversee, inject and measure quality across technology organization, with a focus on each project/product life cycle (ie product from inception to retirement). In this way, there are many more opportunities than ever before to govern and measure quality, and many that would not otherwise have been considered.

Some of these opportunities to inject quality are hopefully already part of your standards, such as gates to accept/reject code for testing, you probably have development test results and many standard metrics, but what about code reviews completed, security tests completed, etc. Plus, add doors for each phase and deliverable. The key to adding gates from a governance perspective is to ensure everything is measured to support quality metrics/KPIs and that you have vendor and/or internal agreements on deliverables and deadlines. The most valuable opportunities are the ones you can shift left as much as possible, so the sooner you can get involved, the better.

The most successful example for me was very recently on a hugely important initiative, where I was involved in contract negotiations and requested delivery of automated tests with code delivery, the vendor agreed to deliver 20-30% of its automated development testing (also making sure this covers 100% of basic functional testing), and this would be included with every code release. Additionally, the vendor had to ensure that the automated test ran and passed in the test environment before we approved the code delivery. This resulted in very low vendor defect rates and allowed for much more extensive quality assurance testing than expected, which also cut commercial acceptance testing time nearly in half. If you consider that this was a project that required more than a 50-person QA team at its peak, with tens of thousands of test cases, and went into production in on time and on budget with zero Sev 1 or 2 defects, it was a great success.

QA/testing has always been a difficult area and is probably part of what most motivates those who choose to work in this area, so the next challenge is the ability to look at quality outside of traditional boundaries and at when you can get involved and where quality can be injected! My advice is to ask for and negotiate involvement in the launch of the project, and from there try to be involved in contract negotiations, project planning, etc. Then, as you can plan and implement all potential points to ensure quality, it won’t take long for the rest of the team members, sales representatives and external groups to realize the value and involvement of the EQ, not to mention how you can make quality a priority in your organization.

Good QE’ing!

Article written by Barry Dawson, Release Manager at Gore Mutual Insurance.

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