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Software Testing: Align Your Testing Team With The Business’s Goals

Everyone says that software testing teams need to have a plan.  They need to be proactive, metrics-based, and thorough; not reactionary or improvisational.  But consider this: if an organization’s goals aren’t aligned with the business they serve, is their plan really all that good anyway?

Software Testing: Align Your Testing Team With The Business’s Goals

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Say your team has just been approved to implement a test automation solution, but you’re unaware that the business has prioritized time-to-market over everything else.
Without that critical piece of information, you’re likely to increase testing coverage at the expense of the business’s primary goal!

“Work smarter, not harder.”

If you’ve been in the corporate world very long (and by “very long”, I mean six months), you’ve probably heard those four words enough that the mere mention of them makes you shudder with derision.  But, as irritating (and overused) as those words can be, there’s a reason why they’re spoken: they’re absolutely true.

After all, don’t we all endeavor to solve our problems with the swift, effortless touch of the brain; rather than the exhausting battle of attrition that ensues when we forsake it for brawn?

But what happens when, despite the best of our intentions, we think we’re working smarter; but we’re actually just making our jobs harder?

It’s a relatively common thing.  We think we’re being proactive, but in our haste to act, we miss critical details—which negatively impacts the usefulness of our supposedly “helpful” endeavors.  It’s not a crime of ignorance, just a well-intentioned mistake that should’ve been caught by someone higher up the food chain.

And while they may not know it, a lot of software testing teams are guilty of this very behavior—and it’s rarely, if ever, their fault.

When it comes to QA organizations, things start out innocently enough.  Inefficiency hampers the team, so they devise a way to make their lives easier.  Whether it’s a more robust training process, a formalized testing methodology, a test automation strategy, or something else, these efficient solutions generally promise cost savings, faster time-to-market, and better software quality.

So what goes wrong?  In a (paradoxical) way, it’s the same thing that gets everyone in trouble—too much haste.  Typically, this stems from an over-eagerness to deliver a return.  Everyone knows that the purse strings in IT are notoriously tight, making funding for transformational initiatives like these quite rare.  So, rather than taking the time to ensure that their proposed solution will interface well with the business’s objectives, the team drives forward before anyone can get cold feet.

And therein lies the problem.  By neglecting to align their initiatives with the business’s goals, it’s easy for a team to get off course quickly.

Consider this.  Say your team has just been approved to implement a test automation solution, but you’re unaware that the business has prioritized time-to-market over all other variables—including software quality.  Without that critical piece of information, you’re likely to implement a framework that increases coverage (since automation is so efficient, it won’t incur much extra expense) at the expense of the business’s primary goal!

And while that’s just a single, rudimentary example, the point remains: working smarter also means planning smarter too.

So how can you prevent this?  Well, aside from making sure you remember the line above this, you should start getting this kind of thinking is ingrained in your organization’s culture, from top to bottom.   That’s only a fraction of what a good QA culture entails (including empowerment, training, transparency, and more), but it’s a viable part nonetheless—and taking steps towards implementing such a mindset is an important step along the way.  We’ve got a lot of experience in this kind of thing (in fact, our organizational culture is a prominent part of our True North Testing Methodology), so feel free to drop us a line if you’re looking for some guidance.  We’re always happy to help.

After all, it’s always better to have an expert’s opinion before you get started.  Isn’t that what working smarter is all about?

Cheers,

Mike Hodge
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc.
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

 
Oracle PMIAFCEAASQIEEESoftware Engineering InstituteInternational Software Testing Qualifications Board