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Staying on top more difficult than getting there

Business is good when you are alone on top. If you are not prudent, however mightiest one may be, a small nudge by somebody could pull you all the way down. Our customer is the market leader in providing learning solutions to Universities and school. Apart from innovative solutions, they proved to be business smart by outsourcing to India not just for cost benefits, but also quality equivalent to their team.

Senior management of the organization had apprehensions of its success, owing to Competency, Process, Training, Communication and Cultural differences. Did STAG manage to allay their fears?  Read on.

With headquarter in Washington DC, US; the customer is the largest E-Learning provider in the School and University space. Growing competition was driving the product team for newer innovation, quicker concept-to-market and higher quality. As the development team shift gear into an agile mode, the pressure was on the QA to cut down the test cycle time and qualify the products quicker with the same effectiveness. The small team was found wanting for additional people. Aggressive deadlines convinced the management to outsource some parts of testing. We realized the initial challenge would be to reinforce the customer confidence on their decision to outsource. This would mean total transparency and a continuous communication channel to know the team’s day-to-day activities. It was also necessary that we adapt their QA process and the terminologies they use. The time involved in setting up the team and ramp-up was very short. This meant we would need someone travel to US on a short notice and undergo product training and be back and transfer the knowledge to the team.

The team was chosen based on previous experience with testing web applications and previous teaching experiences. Having functional experts meant resolving many of the issues internally.  On return to India after product and process training, the test lead initiated knowledge transfer to team. The training incorporated various topics including setup, features and test process. Once the training was complete, the team started executing dry runs of the test. Though the main objective was to understand the client’s test process, it was also the quickest way to learn the product.

The setup activity happened in close coordination with the onsite analysts and support team. This also helped verify the installation manual. The setup involved multi-platform & multi database test lab and was organized within a week of the engagement.

  • Significant reduction in test execution cycle time (66%)
  • Created excellent knowledge base so that subsequent ramp-up of team was done with just one week notice
  • The depth of knowledge of testing demonstrated by team gave confidence and team was allowed to update test cases. This helped in reducing defect escapes to the field by 13% to 4%
  • Started with four engineers as experiment in outsourcing helped them to outsource major part of test execution (22 engineers) in eight weeks time

Achievements

  • We managed short-notice deadlines (as less as 2 days) by stretching ourselves when needed
  • We executed more than 60 cycles of testing on three major releases, and six minor releases(hot-fixes and service packs)
  • We helped the client to stop many critical issues from escaping
  • They seek and trust our ‘Quality’ advice in a ‘go-no-go’ situation
  • We accepted the challenge of simultaneously testing multiple versions
  • We work with their support team to isolate field defects
  • Our test lab has been flexible to the changing system requirements
  • We add and maintain their test documents
  • We are able to reset the test lab in 4 hrs to a newer configuration
  • We are able to increase the team size with only one week notice(whenever needed)
  • We have the ability to make a new engineer productive in 3 days!
  • We internally developed the training material to create a strong knowledge transfer
  • We have completed testing on/ahead of the schedule 95% of the cycles
  • We have brought down the test cycle time by over 60%
  • We provide status update daily and we do a rain check every alternative week over a T-Con
  • We internally resolve 4 out of every 5 clarifications needed by our engineers, before we approach the client – We ‘disturb’ the customer less!

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