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Building a Corporate Quality Assurance and Testing Group

Manufacturing | QA and Testing, Managed IT Services

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The client was experiencing tremendous growth in sales and product demand. Yet as a young company, it had no formal QA process in place so engaged TEKsystems to establish a QA and testing group to maximize production efficiencies and standardize quality monitoring.

Founded in 1998, the client produces high-quality, durable accessories designed to protect consumer personal electronics, namely mobile devices. The company has positioned itself as an innovator in the accessories space and its products are sold to consumers around the globe.

Technology changes at a rapid pace and yesterday’s advancements can quickly become obsolete. Access to the newest, fastest, easiest to use and most efficient tech products is desirable to both businesses and consumers alike. But the pace of change is not limited to the latest electronic products in the market, as technology retailers also produce corresponding accessories to further enhance the user experience.

Consider mobile phones. Bluetooth earpieces, cases and covers, and car chargers are all designed to expand a mobile phone’s value to its user. Bluetooths offer users additional functionality, cases and covers offer protection from every day wear and tear, and car chargers offer extended battery life on-the-go. These accessories can all be found at any electronics retailer as soon as a new mobile phone is introduced to the marketplace, and customers will expect and demand these accessories if they are not already available.

Electronics accessories are made to fit and operate compatibly with their partnering electronic device. Given the high-speed rate at which new electronics are being brought to market, how do companies in the accessories business stay on top of the latest IT product trends and deliver compatible accessories on time? An effective QA and testing practice can help organizations maximize production efficiencies by identifying and preventing defects up front and by streamlining the quality control process.

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As a leading electronics accessories producer, the client works within a rigorous, dynamic and evolving atmosphere. The client’s products complement mobile devices, tablets and other personal electronics. Given the technology landscape is constantly advancing and new, improved personal devices are being aggressively introduced to market every day, the client needs to be able to react quickly. Its products need to be readily available for customers to purchase in accompaniment with the latest and greatest new gadget they are buying.

Over the last three years, the client has experienced exponential growth of over three thousand percent. The client needed to navigate a process to meet this escalating demand in order to ensure the business continues to thrive and maintains this momentum. A robust QA solution would play a critical part in achieving this, but the client had minimal previous QA in place. The client realized a partner with QA expertise was needed as a result of several contributing factors:

  • Identified lack of in-house QA skill sets

  • Increased volume of production

  • Recognized value of QA in a production environment through market insight

  • Internal evolution from mid-size to enterprise-size business

  • Internal replacement of back-office systems (i.e., CRM)

Instituting consistent and effective QA methodologies would be a key component in steering future success. Systems would need to be robust enough to manage inventory, create new products, sell and report sales in the accounting system.

The client required a robust application environment that could keep pace with business growth and secure a predictable level of quality. By establishing and implementing a QA group, the client would benefit from high quality in the enhancements made to existing systems and new applications. A team devoted to the organization’s quality assurance efforts would help stabilize production quality, ensure accuracy of orders and reduce the number of defects within the production cycle. TEKsystems recommended a two-phased approach to setting up and managing an ongoing QA and testing center of excellence on behalf of the client.

1. Discovery: The initial exploratory phase would allow us to obtain an understanding of the client’s current processes and enable us to identify areas for improvement from a third-party perspective. Based on learnings from this phase, TEKsystems would determine resources and roles needed for building a robust QA group. To do this, TEKsystems would hold a series of stakeholder interviews with individuals who plan, design, develop, test, implement or support systems and applications within the organization. We would interview resources with titles including:

  • QA/software tester

  • Software developer

  • Product manager

  • Business analyst

  • Business end-user/customers

We would also conduct a careful review of the client’s processes currently in place, any documentation associated with testing of current systems and any test-related artifacts (i.e., functional and design specifications, test plans, test cases, etc.). We would review processes and related documents for:

  • Requirements management

  • Test management

  • Defect tracking

  • Automated testing

  • Performance testing

2. Establishment of the QA Program: TEKsystems would then source, screen and onboard resources for the roles defined during the Discovery Phase. This on-site team would establish, implement and document a set of standard operating procedures as well as communication plans needed for the client to reach its QA goals.

Based on our solid relationship with the client and their knowledge of our capabilities, they were confident in our quality assurance approach and entrusted TEKsystems to implement our recommended solution.

The QA group was successfully set in place and instituted a higher level of quality than before. TEKsystems’ involvement proved instrumental in allowing the client to keep up with product demand. For example, a leading mobile phone manufacturer was introducing a new and highly anticipated phone to the marketplace. The client was able to meet the market needs for its products during the time of the phone’s launch. Like this, with the QA support TEKsystems helped put in place, the client can continue to produce its accessories in parallel with the launch dates scheduled by electronics manufacturers.

This program was effectively executed through the two phases of Discovery and Establishment of the QA Program. TEKsystems conducted interviews and vetted existing practices, documentation and artifacts. This informed our assessment and enabled us to build a plan for maturing the organization’s QA efforts. In implementing the plan, TEKsystems utilized an Agile methodology. Already a user of Agile, the client benefited from TEKsystems’ expert knowledge and allowed us to provide more structure to enhance its current processes.

We determined what roles were needed and we sourced, screened and onboarded 12 resources including: a test process consultant, service and engagement managers, a QA lead, senior QA analysts and QA testers. The team put the plan into action and supported QA and testing efforts for all of the client’s major systems via test scripts, test methodologies, automation as well as performance testing of all applications.
  • Expertise. TEKsystems’ Quality Management practice brought deep expertise and working knowledge of effective QA practices which had been paramount to this initiative. With this extensive background we were able to put together a roadmap for moving the initiative forward and properly executing the plan. TEKsystems enabled the client to embrace quality assurance within their overall environment and specifically within the entire development lifecycle.
  • People. The contributions that the onsite resources have made were critical to this being a successful program. The team’s close contact ensured our delivery was seamless and allowed us to identify any issues and course correct on the spot. Having someone physically on-site 100 percent of the time enabled TEKsystems to cement a relationship with the client and secure additional work where we can help the client continue to produce quality products. 
  • Process. Our expertise and people were supported by our project management process. With close attention on the actual management of this project, TEKsystems was able to monitor the progress of every facet of this effort and ensure key activities stayed on track including: ongoing client communications, assessment and development of a plan, executing the plan, and reaching major milestones.
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