Enterprise-wide Quality Assurance Strategy: Timing is Critical

Earlier in this blog series, four questions were addressed that every QA professional or product owner must answer to determine whether it makes sense to adopt an enterprise-wide quality assurance strategy.

Of course, developing any kind of “silo”-crossing strategy will have an impact on your business goals, your work processes, and your products and systems. That’s why it’s so important to determine when it makes most sense to consider an enterprise-wide quality assurance strategy. This blog post will help you address the thorny issue of choosing “the right time.”

When Warning Signs Crop Up… Again and Again

A handful of warning signs will suggest that it is the right time to re-examine your quality assurance processes through more than the lens of a single department or a single product. A couple of examples are:

  • It takes too long to get your product to market. Whether it’s a new product or a new release, you invest considerable time and resources in making sure your products get to market in a timely fashion. Your ability to bring products to market quickly builds your brand as an innovator, ensures revenue predictability for upcoming quarters, keeps you ahead of competitors, and keeps current and would-be investors excited about your organization’s growth potential.

However, if the processes you use, within or across offices, to achieve required quality standards suffer from persistent bottlenecks, your ability to get products to market when you need to will suffer.

  • Trouble-shooting defects is taking too much time. It is reasonable to expect that defects will arise at some point during the building of your products – particularly if doing so involves several offices and multiple teams. That complexity is increased when several languages and target audiences are thrown into the mix. But just as with any learning system, you should be able to estimate, monitor and reduce product deficit volumes and ratios. If it is impossible to do so reliably (and cost-effectively), you need to take a broader view of how quality assurance is managed.

When You’ve Got Hard Data to Back Up Your Argument

Getting management to support an enterprise-wide quality assurance strategy takes a combination of finesse and brute-force metrics. Among the data points that will help you demonstrate that it is the right time to introduce an enterprise-wide quality strategy are the following.

  • The growing number of defects that products have over a set period
  • The number of “quality gates” that are missed
  • The amount of resources required to get a product through all quality checkpoints
  • A consistently low (or decreasing) Net Promoter Score, or other indicators of your customer satisfaction and reputation
  • An increase in costs for conducting testing in-house
  • An increase in penalties that you have had to pay out because of an inability to meet service level agreements (SLAs)
  • An increase in costs to get your products in compliance with in-house and/or third-party quality standards

When Conditions are Right

When management recognizes the warning signs and accepts the hard data, you can persuade even the most uninformed leader about the need for an enterprise-wide quality assurance strategy. However, to close the deal, the following should be in place too.

  • Documentation of quality assurance processes
  • A budget for ensuring quality assurance that takes into consideration how product innovation and adoption affect the company’s revenues and reputation
  • A company culture that does more than talk about wanting to ensure quality but truly sees the value in quality work, quality people and quality products

The next blog post will drill down to the nuts and bolts of enterprise-wide quality assurance strategies by covering such topics as how much time it takes to develop such a strategy; ownership of the strategy; making sure that the strategy you adopt is right for you; and the downside of having an enterprise-wide quality assurance strategy.

I welcome hearing your experiences with, or questions about, implementing an enterprise-wide quality assurance strategy. Please be in touch by email (dnikolova at qaconsultants.com) or via LinkedIn.

Desislava Nikolova leads QA Consultants’ Advisory Practice.