“Never look down” – not the best suggestion for a startup

A Talent Management Company delivering end-to-end learning solutions was on a rapid growth path. Customer base was growing, and they catered to every possible segment. With international awards and mentions in every possible listing, it was a dream growth. Each customer was special and of high priority. The sales team filled order books enough to keep the engineering busy with customization. Within short period, it became increasingly difficult to meet schedules and then instances of customers reporting defects started coming in. The management smartly decided to enough of act the signs before things got out of hand. It is wise to check if the rest of the team is keeping up with you, when you are climbing high.

After a detailed analysis we put down a list of things that need attention – With no formal QA practice in place, a makeshift testing team of few developers and product managers assessed the applications before being released to customers. The requirement documents for their products did not exist. There was no tracking of the defects done which eventually resulted in delayed releases to the clients.

The team applying HBT hypothesized what could possible go wrong in the product (applied HBT core concepts of ‘Negative Thinking’ and ‘EFF model’) and staged them over multiple quality levels. The test scenarios and test cases designed were unique to each of the quality levels formulated as the focus on the defects to be detected at each level is unique and different (HBT core concepts Box model was applied to understand the various behaviors of each requirement/feature/sub-feature and hence derive the test scenarios for each feature/sub-feature). With close support from the management, we put together a net so tight, that no defects slip through.

 A clear mapping of the requirements, potential defects, test scenarios and test cases was done after completing the test design activity to prove the adequacy of test cases.

The robust test design ensures the product quality. The percentage of High priority defects was significantly high (65%) and were detected in earlier test cycles The test scenarios and test cases were adequate as the defect escapes was brought down to 2% from 25% and the regression test cycles was reduced from 30 to 12. More importantly, the schedule variance dropped to normalcy.

Delivering peace of mind- Assessing release worthiness

The product helps to detect different types of telecom fraud, be it in wireless or wire line networks. It also helps to detect fraud in roaming, pre-paid and post-paid environments and tailor-made for GSM/CDMA/Fixed/GPRS network. The product team comprised of strong development team ably supported by an in-house QA team. The product was developed using J2EE technologies and had undergone multiple versions of build – currently in version 6.0 – with wide installation base in Asian/US market. The company had an ambitious plan to expand the product reach and move into a new market – European market. The product went through multiple feature upgrade/modifications to meet the needs of the new market. Though the product was tested diligently by the in-house QA team, the management was skeptical about the release worthiness of the product. They preferred to have an independent third party product assessment to enhance their delivery confidence before the formal product launch.

STAG singularly focused to ensure the defect escapes are minimized. Hence a three-pronged approach was adopted to determine the breadth and depth of testing required –

  • Identify what poses high business risks? What has been de-risked already? What remains as risk that is to be assessed?
  • How well has the “net” been cast to uncover defects in the lifecycle? Are the methods to uncover defects expansive/complete?
  • Are the test cases (i.e. those inputs that have the ‘power’ to detect anomalies) good?  Do the already existing test cases and therefore the tests conducted have the power to uncover high-risk business issues?

Fixing the high impact defects improved the stability of the product– which otherwise could have led to USD 250K support cost in the initial months. The release worthiness certificate lowered the business risk for the customer and newly gained delivery confidence by the customer management powered their successful product launch and on time to market.