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Maturing QA Testing Practice for Digital Marketer

Information Technology | QA and Testing, Managed IT Services

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TEKsystems partnered with a digital marketing SaaS provider to implement a managed services solution team to help develop and mature its existing quality assurance and testing practice to help the client keep up with aggressive business growth.

The client delivers digital marketing software-as-a-service solutions to help clients reach customers through communications channels including email, marketing automation, mobile, social media and websites. Founded in 2000, the company provides its marketing support services to Fortune 500 enterprises and small businesses around the globe. TEKsystems has partnered with this client since 2012.

When introducing a new application to the marketplace, it is critical that the application has been validated and its functionality verified, as any defects or malfunctions can be time-consuming and costly to address. An effective quality assurance (QA) program can provide peace of mind and control over what goes into production. Companies utilize QA and testing to identify glitches and course-correct when necessary. QA and testing not only helps the business from a financial standpoint but also helps improve quality standards, subsequently providing end customers with greater confidence in the product.

Establishing the optimal QA and testing program for your organization is dependent on the unique goals and needs of your business. For organizations with limited resources or capacity available, a risk-based approach to quality assurance may be the best solution. With risk-based QA, the expenses associated with quality remain steady or even decrease without compromising quality. Organizations prioritize items requiring testing in terms of risk level; when capacity is not available, the higher risk items go through proper QA procedures while lower risk items may not be tested.

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The client, a cross-channel marketing software company, was experiencing aggressive business growth while continuously evolving its entire suite of applications. The client recently won several new accounts and had taken on a number of larger customers. To support and sustain momentum in expanding the business, it was imperative that the client control and safeguard the quality of software products being released. Any bugs or issues in the software needed to be identified and resolved prior to introducing the product to the market.

This would not only provide the optimal client experience but also mitigate organizational risks for the client by avoiding potential contractual performance penalties. Yet, the client’s internal QA team was thinly spread across the client’s eight business units, making it difficult to ensure all errors were caught before every software release—especially given the growth of the company. As a result, it was no longer a cost-effective, long-term solution for the client to rely on its on-site QA and testing contractors, and the client sought to decrease its dependence on domestic on-shore QA support.

In tandem with this, the client was looking to mature its QA practice and wanted to partner with a solution provider with proven success in quality assurance that could advise on best practices. The client was also trying to gradually transition from conventional Waterfall to an iterative development methodology and needed a partner who could support and adapt to this environment.

The client needed a partner that could continually integrate with its QA environment and assimilate to its software development lifecycle processes, while ensuring system integrity with each release. To maintain a high level of process and application quality, the ideal partner would offer skilled, detail-oriented resources that could create manual tests and effectively execute manual test scripts; the partner also needed to provide an off-site facility, the site for the resources to work.

With QA being a shared service across the client’s eight business units, it was inevitable that gaps would exist, presenting serious risk to the client and its continued growth. To eliminate the risk, TEKsystems' Quality Management practice recommended a two-phased approach to providing on-site and off-site manual regression testing for the client.

Phase One: Planning and Initiation
To start, the TEKsystems team would review current applications and systems that would be impacted during this initiative. We would review test inventory, formalize reporting artifacts and a schedule with the client. We would also develop an onboarding process to bring team members up to speed in a consistent and efficient manner. This would include knowledge management efforts to provide a comprehensive understanding of the client’s business model, application functionality, testing and reporting tools, and the client’s preferred processes.

Phase Two: Test Development and Execution
The team would then develop and execute tests and provide the client with frequent reporting and status updates. TEKsystems would continuously look for potential performance and quality improvements that should be made to promote the long-term success of this program.

In need of a partner that could deliver highly skilled resources, quality results and consultative value to this QA and testing engagement, the client selected TEKsystems because of our QA expertise and adaptability. And with our solid reputation, the client was confident that we had the ability to scale and flex according to its quickly changing business activity.

TEKsystems successfully implemented this QA and testing program and the client was so pleased with our delivery that they extended our original six-month contract by an additional 14 months. In collaboration with the client, we implemented risk-based testing to ensure quality even under constrained testing schedules.

Our team seamlessly transitioned onboard with no impact to productivity. Leveraging our Montreal Innovation Centre, TEKsystems provided a team of six resources to support this engagement. We implemented a mixed on-site, off-site solution, with a QA lead and test analysts at the Montreal Innovation Centre, and a QA lead analyst at the client. The team collaborated and beneficially contributed to the client’s QA and testing as an organizational discipline, guiding continual improvement around its QA practices. For example, we advised them on gaining more efficient and effective use of JIRA. We trained and empowered the client’s internal QA people, sharing our knowledge at the client site.

Given that the client operated within its established QA environment, TEKsystems worked with the client, adapted and provided guidance on workflow for increased execution efficiency. This meant that QA and testing occurred at the end of each sprint as opposed to at the release level. TEKsystems supported the client’s effort to migrate away from Waterfall in favor of Agile methodology.

With TEKsystems’ support, the client had a more streamlined test suite than before through test case analysis and remediation of existing libraries. We defined and implemented a smoke test process to promote the integrity of testing.

We also set up test case review meetings and provided daily status updates to the client. After less than one year, TEKsystems found a total of 550 defects. We created and executed a combined total of over 1,500 test cases for the client’s two priority initiatives. Defect aging has been stabilized to no more than five days; this is a dramatic improvement compared to the previous defect aging rate of over three weeks.

Demonstrated by our ability to adapt, focus on knowledge retention and dedication to establishing a QA workflow, TEKsystems was able to successfully support the client’s goal to improve and mature its QA practice.
  • Adaptability. TEKsystems quickly ramped up on the client’s approach to QA and software development. We acted as a flexible partner and adapted our team and processes to best align with the client’s business processes. Our program lead managed the lines of communication with all stakeholders, ensuring transparency and setting expectations.
  • Knowledge Retention. In order to extend the life of the knowledge that was built throughout this engagement, TEKsystems maintained careful documentation of all knowledge, best practices and processes. In case there was any turnover, we wanted to be sure that knowledge was captured and retained, and the client had the ability to backfill QA resources with ease. We created training materials so if new resources were brought in they would be up to speed quickly. This promised a smooth transition and seamless transfer of knowledge.
  • Established Workflow. TEKsystems established a QA workflow that was invaluable to the client and to the success of this program. We clearly defined inputs, outputs and a process. A common definition is critical in QA and testing because it ensures everyone on the team and at the client site is on the same page and maintains that uniform definition.
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