Case Study: SQA Process Setup

A client had a maturing software application that was experiencing quality issues related to rapid feature growth.  The client was making frequent production releases, but was spending too much time fixing problems in production after release. The application itself was used primarily by the field service staff while in direct contact with customers and potential customers.  The application’s quality problems were inhibiting the field service staff's ability to interact with the customer and had the potential to affect sales.

 The client had no formalized software quality assurance process and most testing was performed by the developers.  The client did not want to outsource SQA, but needed help establishing the SQA function while it hired its own staff and built up its SQA department.

The primary challenge was to immediately improve the quality of software being released into production, while developing a SQA framework for long-term improvements in the SQA process.  

Stonemill provided three resources to address the problem.  The first concentrated on non-scripted exploratory testing of the application to drive out as many defects as possible before production release.  This eliminated most of the quality problems.  The second resource concentrated on developing repeatable test scripts, and developing a basic SQA process including test planning, execution and documentation.  The third resource was a senior SQA consultant who met with the CIO to discuss short-term and long-term changes to the development process

The focus on more thorough testing prior to production release brought about an immediate improvement in software quality.  Stonemill built up a library of hundreds of scripted test cases for future regression testing. The CIO made software development methodology changes that slowed down the rate of change, but released better quality software resulting in a more stable application.  Developers were relieved of their QA responsibilities and were able to focus on developing new features. 

Within a year, the client had hired its own SQA staff, assumed responsibility for managing the SQA process, and began performing the exploratory and scripted testing.  Once the client’s SQA staff was established, Stonemill turned over all testing responsibilities to the client and exited the engagement.