Over the past 4 weeks we have been discussing the following list of items related to Quality Assurance. While it may not necessarily be a full comprehensive list, it is a starting point for many Quality Assurance activities. In looking at the list, there are many things a tester could concentrate on. We also have to be concerned about perceptions of the Quality Assurance department. Concentrating on any one of the items to the exclusion of the rest can not only cause one to lose sight of the larger picture, it can also cause problems with the remainder of the organization that feels that Quality Assurance has one one agenda.

  1. Proactive
  2. Analytical
  3. Focused on Root Causes
  4. Focused on Process

Given the above list, what can a Quality Assurance Centre of Excellence concentrate on in order to provide value to the organization?

Proactive We need to spend some time each week looking at the future and how Quality Assurance can address it. The first few weeks are difficult because you may not know what to look at or look for and you may not be aware of what to ask. Some initial interviews asking for expectations might help guide the agenda. The answers need to be analysed and weighed so that emphasis can be placed on the correct items. Be prepared for your initial ideas to be wrong and for them to change over time.

Analytical This one can be more political. People do not like having their work focused on with the intent of seeing what has gone wrong. You will need to repeat the words ‘We are here to help’ constantly, and demonstrate that you are living up to them. Since this is reasonably concrete, it is easy to spend all your time here and start generating reports that may or may not be useful. Results from this item need to be reviewed to check for their usefulness.

Focused on Root Causes We already indicated what this one was and what would be involved. It is easy to spend a lot of time on this and not get anywhere. After all, if Root Causes were easy to find, they would already have been discovered and corrected. Brainstorming on the Root Cause followed by a time for reflection is probably best. Be prepared to be surprised as to what the Root Cause really is followed by resistance to any sort of correction.

Focused on Process There are entire books and courses on Process Improvement. Much of the above will drive the processes since it is the processes that are wrong and are causing the problems in the first place. So while you can do Process Improvement in isolation, it can also be driven by what comes from the previous three sections. Be prepared for some long payback cycles and a lot of resistance.

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