QA Discussion


SPIN Panel Discussion on Quality Assurance

On Thursday, November 20th I attended a presentation by a panel of Quality Assurance experts at Wells Fargo in Menomonee Falls, sponsored by the Milwaukee Chapter of SPIN: The Software Process Improvement Network. The panel included Debbie Koepf, Quality Assurance Manager for Corporate Business Service Division at Kohl’s Corporation, Deepak Jayavant, Lead of Quality Management Practice for Lochbridge, and Drew Tiedtke, Development Center Manager for Centare.

The main focus of the presentation (which was well-attended by more than 70 professionals) was maintaining quality throughout the software development and implementation process. This meant maintaining quality through the process from planning and development, to building, testing and delivering the product.

Both panelists and many attendees indicated some concerns that we don’t currently deal with as Quality Analysts at Red Arrow—such as automation tools for testing. However, the problem of monitoring and ensuring quality to evaluate the process and teach teams to become more agile was a consistent concern for all. The problem of monitoring quality from the beginning of developing a project, moving through progressive stages and sprints, shepherding each stage to ‘done’ and ultimately to the client in the most efficient and cost-effective manner is a major concern for any size software developer.

The most salient point was made by Mr. Jayavant of Lochbridge. His expressed view that Quality Assurance is not simply a thing that an organization must possess, but is a continual ongoing process that each individual at every step must “own”. To benefit from the continual process of Quality Assurance, individuals and organizations must continually monitor for gaps that appear in quality and uniformity, learn to identify them and take steps to correct these shortfalls.

As part of this process it was agreed among the panel that the value of maintenance of master test plans throughout development and that documentation as part of the process is invaluable to an organization’s continuity. The panel agreed that most companies generally don’t allocate the resources to run as lean as agile development calls for and keep the kind of organized documentation that would be most beneficial to consistency of process, especially during organizational growth. All organizations that work in agile development are grappling with this problem and trying to find ways to implement that idea while keeping speed and balance.

Overall, though, it was concluded, Quality Assurance can be seen as an umbrella that protects projects as a whole from beginning to end and ensures a product that is up to organizational standards while meeting clients’ needs above and beyond their expectations. It must be continually and conscientiously applied at every step of the development process by team members communicating how to best advance and maintain this standard of quality to best fit their direction and outlook.