Quality Control

We Asked the Project Management Community: How Do You Overcome Common Problems During Testing Phases?

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MIRROR REALITY

In my experience, the biggest challenge is ensuring that testing replicates intimately how customers will use the product or system: their use cases, environment, what else may be running and so on. Errors discovered after delivery at customer sites will be urgent, and it doesn't matter if your internal testing was 100 percent pass. Ongoing communication with customers via field engineering/sales to try to understand use scenarios is vital but challenging, since customers may not wish to expose their complete systems. They may be under a nondisclosure agreement with their target customer, for example.”

—David Raftus, PMP, director, engineering project management, real-time operating systems, Wind River, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

CULTIVATE COLLABORATION

During the handoff from developers on the scrum team, quality assurance (QA) teams can feel pressure to finish their testing quickly. So I need to make sure that the development and testing tasks are integrated. I include testers during the early stages of design so we can agree on what needs to be tested—and why—to facilitate a regular and continuous feedback loop. Similarly, I make sure developers understand the needs of QA, so the teams ultimately consult with each other over acceptance behavior. For instance, whenever possible, I encourage developers to complete smaller chunks of work and send it across to the testing teams instead of sending everything in bulk at the end of the sprint. Collaboration among teams, rather than simply passing things on and waiting your turn, will help keep teams together and keep progress on track.”

—Rachna Singh, PMI-RMP, PMP, PgMP, program manager, Amazon India, Bengaluru, India

CURB INTERRUPTIONS

We have a product that maintains a high level of information assurance. That requires us to monitor for and implement changes that mitigate vulnerabilities. These changes require testing that can, but doesn't always, interrupt our normal development and maintenance operations. However, our team communication is strong, both formally and informally. We keep our available resources optimized and aware, because working software that meets or exceeds security requirements is always our top priority.”

—Sabrina Weber, project lead, customer relationship management, IEM, Mooresville, North Carolina, USA

ALIGN APPROACHES

The real challenge is when testing overlaps on two projects that use different approaches—agile and waterfall or hybrid. How do those teams collect and present testing reports so that they are comparable? To overcome this, it is necessary for an organization to have a consistent, overarching project governance with controls that are agnostic to project approaches. For instance, three years ago, when I worked with Capgemini, I helped them implement quality controls that provided a standardized framework to monitor and record results when agile software teams and waterfall regulatory teams overlapped. It made everything more consistent.”

—Amit Modhvadia, CIO, services provider and supplier, BBC, Leicester, England

BUILD A TEMPLATE

We test new elements or technology within a network often, and many times they've yet to be fully tested outside of a lab environment. It can prove to be extremely time-consuming and include numerous failures and frustrations. We mitigate the risks by keeping a test log and lessons learned documentation. Both can be instrumental in providing the team with future references. In many cases you can reuse a template for your testing successes and failures. This will be a blueprint to look back on how you overcame previous testing failures. Creating these types of standards within your team will turn an obstacle into a strength, and you will become a resource for others in overcoming testing hindrances.”

—Michael Huber, PMI-ACP, PMP, project manager II, Sprint, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

PLAN TO SUCCEED

The most difficult challenges are getting the time of the users who have to perform the tests and making sure the data in the test system is representative of the real-world environment. To mitigate this, I do upfront resource planning to get the users involved and to train them how to test. I also try to create a user test environment that is as similar as possible to production.”

—Steven Goeman, PMP, founder, Gaps BVBA, Brussels, Belgium

Positive Outcomes

Constant testing is one way agile teams measure success on individual projects. Here are the top ways agile teams track their progress:

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Source: 13th Annual State of Agile Report, CollabNet and VersionOne, 2019

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What steps do you take to manage stress on a daily basis or in a time of crisis—and how do they keep you focused on doing your best work? Email responses to [email protected] for possible publication in a future issue.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

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