QA (Quality assurance) is what makes the difference between a satisfied client and an angry one. It makes sure you deliver what your client is expecting.
Different aspects require different resources
There are different aspects of your project that you have to verify before presenting it. Depending of which type it is, different team members should take care of it since they will be able to focus on the right parts of the project. By making sure you use the right resource for the right QA, you maximize your project’s quality. There are probably more, but those below are the main ones I’ve come across in IT projects:
- Visual: Here I mean everything related to the design once the front-end developer as finished coding. You must make sure everything is aligned correctly, and that it follows the design approved by your client. The best people to test this are designers. The worst people are the front-end developers who coded the interface.
- Functional: This makes sure that everything “works” and actually does what it should do. For example, does a form actually send the information? The best people to test this are beta testers. The worst people are the developers who coded the features.
- Texts: You wouldn’t want to send your project that includes a huge typo in your client’s company’s name would you? Well here you concentrate on texts. Unless it’s included in your contract, I’m not talking about correcting the texts the client sent you, but there always are sentences or words scattered in your project that may not have been provided by him. Error messages inside forms are a good example. The best people to verify this are proof readers or translators. The worst people are anyone weak with grammar or it’s not their primary language.
- UI/UX: This is the usability of the interface and the experience in general. It may have been coded exactly like planned, but maybe it’s hard to use, or there are some key elements missing that prevents you from using a page or feature correctly. The best people to test this and give valuable feedback are people outside the team. The worst people are the ones in the team since they know the project by heart, and may not be able to put themselves in the user’s shoes.
- Client’s expectations: This one is tricky but if expectations are managed correctly during the project execution, it should not be a problem. Still, here you basically need to predict the client reaction. You must know your client, and you think anything will pose a problem, fix it or temporarily remove it from the deliverable if applicable. The best people are the closest to the client like the project manager. The worst people are anyone not in contact with the client.
Don’t get me wrong, when I mention “best people” or “worst people”, I’m talking in general so you can obtain the maximum efficiency possible. As a project manager, you could check the UI, but having been in the project since the beginning and knowing every detail about it, you may not notice that it’s confusing to use the navigation for example, but someone not familiar with the project will tell you within seconds. Know your resources and use them accordingly.
What may happen
There are two main scenarios which will make it hard to execute a great QA:
- Managers underestimating QA: Managers have a tendency to think they save money by not investing in QA. If that is the case, explain to them that it risks sending your clients poor quality products, and therefore, can force the client to terminate the contract. You may want to make them read the first part of this article too to prevent them forcing the “worst people” to test so they may to save a dollar here and there.
- Lack of time: My favorite! No matter how you plan QA inside your schedule, there will always be something that will try to take more time then planned, and QA is often the first thing that you think you can remove. If you absolutely need to send something to your client, assuming it’s not the final delivery, explain to your client that the QA will be done later, and not to worry too much if they find something that does not work properly. It’s not ideal, but at least your are managing your client’s expectations, and explain to them that the quality is to come instead of them imagining that what they are receiving is perfect and end up disappointed.
QA is crucial for your project. Plan it in your schedule from the beginning. Assign the right resources for the right type of QA and you will always have happy clients!