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August 14, 2015

Quality Assurance Doesn’t Start with the QA Team

Ever worked on a project that had no written requirements? How about one that had a one- paragraph specification for a major feature?

Ever had to skip steps in the process and ‘throw something over the wall’ to Quality Assurance (QA) to meet your deadline? It’s their job to find all of the bugs, right? If you’re feeling really confident, maybe you could just skip QA altogether and push it live?

Unfortunately, I can say yes to all of these questions. In my past, I have worked from one-line requirements and sometimes even a post-it note from a client. I must admit I have seen my share of work that was not unit tested, but was simply handed over to QA. Predictably, it failed the very first test. I confess I also witnessed the shortening of a QA cycle for the sake of meeting a project deadline.

But that is in my past.

How We Ensure Quality at Atlantic BT

I’ve found a better way, one I’ve learned from working with a team dedicated to providing the BEST digital solutions for our clients. To achieve this, we established several roles and processes to ensure quality doesn’t start with the QA team.

Project Management

If you select the wrong resources for the project, your project timeline and the quality of the work will suffer. The Project Manager lays out the project plan and evaluates the project needs to determine the right people for the job. They monitor the timeline, watch the budget, and regularly update the client on the project progress. All this comes together to raise the quality of service we provide to clients.

User Experience (UX) & Design

It’s crucial that the project design aligns with the client vision in a way that meets the business needs and provides the best possible user experience. The User Experience and Design team fills this need, capturing the client vision in a way that no one else can. They use persona workshops and stakeholder interviews to examine the needs and preferences of the end users. Then, this team generates concept boards to provide a sense of the design direction, a site outline to visually display the organization of project pages, and wireframes to show how users will navigate the system or site. Bringing this client vision to life is how the UX and Design team contribute to the quality of the project.

Architecture

Behind the project’s design are a host of technical details to ensure quality. That’s where our Architecture team excels. They are focused on gathering and documenting requirements that describe the project’s functionality based on client goals. This team collaborates with the client to understand business rules and expands user stories to provide an accurate functional specification document. This document is the basis of what we build. The Architecture team also answers technical questions during the development and QA phases of the project. By creating a strong architecture and specification document, the Architecture team lays the foundation for building a strong, quality product.

Information Technology (IT)

During the project, it’s vital that everyone on the team can work on a development server configured the same way as the final production server will be. Our IT team makes this possible by setting up the database servers, CMS, S3 buckets, and other tools to establish stable environments for development and QA testing. This allows us to identify issues with configuration and system resources prior to going live. It also lends to a smoother transition when launching the project, which is essential to guaranteeing quality.

Development

Finally, it’s important to create a system that meets client specifications in a way that is efficient and user-friendly. The Development team makes this happen by taking outputs from Architecture, UX, and Design to build the project and ensure the requirements are met. This team also holds code reviews and runs unit tests to check the quality of the code before handing over features to the QA team.

As you can see, quality is a team effort that begins long before the QA team gets involved. Once my QA team receives the outputs from each of them, we can create and execute test plans that consider the business rules, general requirements, user experience, browser compatibility, and much more.

I’m grateful to be part of a company that knows quality does not start with the QA team.  At Atlantic BT, quality begins with understanding our clients’ vision and what’s best for their business. It is something we think about in each phase of the project so that our final delivery is something we are proud to put our name on.

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