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Ten things you need to know to run a successful Testing Center of Excellence

  • 04/10/2013
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

world quality report_100x132According to the World Quality Report, 2013-14 research data shows rapid growth in fully operational in-house Testing Centers of Excellence. Read on to find out what it takes to run a successful Testing Center of Excellence.



According to the 2013-14 World Quality Report, compared to only 4% of operational Testing Centers of Excellence (TCoEs) in 2011 and 6% in 2012, this year’s research data shows rapid growth in fully operational in-house TCoEs to 19%. Prior to joining HP Software last year, I had spent much of the past 15 years centralizing QA and Testing organizations and developing, fixing and improving TCoEs. Based on my experience, here is a simple top ten list of elements that are essential to having a successful Testing CoE.

hp transforming the testing organization


1. Commitment to Quality

Commitment to quality has to come from the top of the organization. Executive support at the ‘C’ level, is essential, and it has to be in actions not just words. For example, if it is clear that a software release won’t be ready for production, you must have the courage to do what is right for the business.


2. Independent Voice for Quality

When you are deciding to take a QA leadership position, you always need to know who in the organization you will be reporting to. In order to have an independent voice for quality, you need to have the ability to honestly deliver bad news, without being handicapped with a conflict of interest.


3. Understanding business and technical risk-reward trade-offs

As a QA leader, it is important to understand the business and technical risks reward trade-offs. Promising ZERO defects and QUALITY without compromise, is unrealistic in our fast-pace competitive environment.


4. Defect Prevention and early detection

Early involvement of QA in the Software Development Lifecycle consistently proves to save money in the long run. Defects caught in the requirements and design phases, can be hundreds of times less expensive then defects caught in production. The renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright said “You can fix it now on the drafting board with an eraser or you can fix it later on the construction site with a sledge hammer”. Which do you think is cheaper?


5. End to End Customer experience testing

Most testing teams do a pretty good job of functional testing in specific areas, like web or retail application testing. Customer experience defects are often found where the systems integrate; therefore, it is important to have efforts dedicated to end to end testing.

6. Operationalize and automate repeatable tasks

At many companies, testing processes are manual and inefficient. It is important to operationalize and automate important and repeatable tasks to optimize your efforts. Automation is not just about regression testing; automation should be used for other tasks such as test data creation, test lab management tasks and reporting.


7. Standardize and simplify processes, tools and methods

Every testing group thinks they are special and they like to customize their own processes, tools and methodologies. I have found that standardizing and simplifying testing processes, tools and methods, has a profound and immediate return on investment.


8. Manage by facts

Standardizing allows leaders to manage by facts instead of emotions or opinions, enabling informed decision making. Having the facts available with a Quality dashboard has helped to make you and your team the Quality Authority and it has also helped to make me and my leadership team trusted advisors to the business and Technology leadership.


9. Continuous process improvement

When you have the facts, it is important to continuously look for ways to improve the testing and QA process through lessons learned or root-caused analysis. Historical trends like our release over release comparison have been invaluable in developing estimation tools and release readiness predictive models.


10. Build and maintain a high performing QA team including employees and partners

The tenth and most important building block to empowering a Testing Center of Excellence is to develop and maintain a high performing QA team including both employees and partners. It is amazing how much a person with a bad attitude can pull down a team. One the other hand, a highly skilled and motivated employee delivering amazing results and raise up the people around him or her.

I hope you can benefit from my experience with TCoEs. Feel free to provide feedback based on your experience. Every organization is different and what works in one organization doesn’t always match the culture of another company.

Author: Michael Cooper

mike cooper_100x100QA and Testing Evangelist, HP Software is a leader in the fields of quality assurance (QA), software testing, and process improvement. In November 2012, Michael joined the HP Software Applications team. Michael brings more than 15 years of hands on and QA and Testing leadership experience top companies including T-Mobile USA, Fair Isaac and Equifax.

Please join Toby Marsden and I for a EuroSTAR Web Event ‘Development and Testing for the New Style of IT’ on Tuesday October 15th or let’s meet in person at upcoming events including EuroSTAR in Gothenburg Sweden (November 4th-7th) and at HP Discover in Barcelona, Spain (Dec 10-12)!

Follow me on Twitter @qacooper
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