Silverpath Technologies Inc. -- Thinking Through Testing - exampleprojects

By: Silverpath Technologies  09-12-2011

Silverpath's consultants have worked on many project types, technologies, domains and tools. In each case, we strive to create lasting benefits.

The following summarizes some examples to this effect:

Consulting Services Project Example

With the completion of the organizational Quality Review, there was clear indication that significant improvements could be achieved in relatively short order without requiring the rebuilding of the test department from the ground up. The customer elected to proceed with two complimentary efforts in parallel: improvement of the general testing process and effectiveness of the team, and improvement of the automated regression test suite to achieve greater coverage and higher maintainability.

Approach/Solution: An outside test team was integrated with the customer's existing test team for a period of six months to address the targeted improvements and to provide leadership to the test team and the rest of the organization with respect to quality and test concerns and activities.

A senior consultant took on the role of interim Director of QA within the customer's organization. This resource focused on the identification and implementation of project transferable process activities as well as managed the existing test team for the duration of the engagement.

Working with the customer's executive sponsor to define goals for the test department, the senior consultant ensured the department was organized and appropriately supported to deliver on the defined objectives; planned, scheduled and managed accepted improvement initiatives to a successful conclusion; assigned initiatives and activities to managers and staff and ensuring they had the resources and skills in order to complete the projects and initiatives assigned; and cooperatively worked with directors and managers of other departments to ensure cross-departmental initiatives were successfully executed.

Additionally, a senior test analyst performed test planning and test execution activities in cooperation with the customer's existing test team for the duration of the engagement, aiding in the implementation and roll-out of improvements to the manual test activities while ensuring that project deadlines were met.

In parallel, one test automation lead and two test automation specialists focused on improving the automated regression test suite. The automation improvement effort included identification of key test scenarios that provided representative coverage of the application's business workflows, documentation of those scenarios and then the actual automation of those scenarios within a properly planned and architected test automation framework.

Achieved Benefits: Having the outside team members integrated with the customer's existing team allowed many improvements to be made in the areas of general testing process and team effectiveness, and in the area of the automated regression test suite.

In general the engagement resulted in an increase to the effectiveness and efficiency of the customer's existing test team through process, training and automation improvements; improvements that were made to maximize the quality and quantity of software testing activities within financial and staffing constraints. And at the end of the engagement, knowledge transfer on the improvements and automation framework was completed such that the customer was able to proceed forward on its own.

Specifically, substantial improvements that were achieved include:

  • Within two weeks: a proof of concept indicated a 25x reduction in the existing automation scripts' codebase was achievable using an automation framework, which in turn would provide a 3.5x reduction in results analysis, defect isolation, and script maintenance costs
  • Within three months: definition of a test strategy and other process artifacts allowed the test team to completely keep-up with the 11 releases per month whereas previously only incomplete testing was done for some of those releases
  • Within three months: review and improvement of the test environment infrastructure led to a 2x increase of automated and manual test capability and a 4x increase in test environment coverage of with no new hardware/software purchases required
  • Within six months: a 5x increase in the number of tests automated and a 125% virtual increase to the customer's previously existing test team size was achieved through effective application of the automated regression test suite
  • Within six months: knowledge transfer was completed with the previously existing team and the customer's newly appointed Director of QA

Training Services Project Example

The customer wanted to get the leaders of its test team exposed to some formal training in software test management. But with a large number of team members and a desire to get the training completed quickly, the customer wanted to avoid sending its staff to the usual part-time courses available from the local providers.

Approach/Solution: A senior consultant brought the training the customer was looking for into their own offices. The training was arranged to take place once a week over a period of a few weeks so as to minimize the interruption to each team member's normal responsibilities. Additionally, the time between the classroom sessions allowed the team to work on takeaway exercises that deepened the practical benefit received from the various topics covered.

Achieved Benefits: Having the option to receive training in their offices allowed the customer to offer its staff the most optimal solution for advancing their knowledge and skills. The customer was able to get the training completed for all team members in the fastest way possible, and each team member was able to take the training as part of their weekly activities while continuing to meet their responsibilities on their projects and obligations at home.

In the course of the training, team members were able to delve into the topics that were affecting them the most and take the benefits back to their projects immediately. Additionally, the entire team now had a common frame of reference for discussions, improvements and future learning.

Testing Services Project Example

The customer's software system was in initial development. The system was large in scope and functionality and required significant testing attention. To meet externally imposed rigorous quality requirements, the customer needed to find significant outside help from experts in software testing to supplement their internal test team during this time.

Approach/Solution: Scaling up the customer's test team by an additional 20+ resources, including test management, in a nearshore/onsite resourcing model delivered the solution the customer needed. The team was responsible for construction and maintenance of 100,000 test cases for over 70 major sub-systems, performing end-to-end functionality, integration, regression and system testing.

Additionally, the team took ownership of a large number of application areas, independently working with business analysts to review and clarify requirements and directly interfacing with the customer's customers to facilitate user acceptance testing.

Achieved Benefits: The customer looked for help early and the outside team was able to get involved in strategic planning activities: defining test schedules, test processes, developing test case templates, and creating test plans.

Also, the two groups were treated as one team by the customer and this collaborative environment allowed the expertise of the outside test team members to truly be leveraged and provided valuable thought leadership and input during each phase of the project.

During the later stages of development, the customer was able to rapidly scale to a 1:1 ratio of software developers to testers by relying upon the outside team's staffing flexibility, testing expertise, and domain knowledge to meet deadlines and make sure the system worked as intended.

Overall the test effort removed over 30,000 defects over the course of a three year period for literally millions of test results, and the customer "go-live" installs have reported only a dozen or so impactful issues by comparison. Without this solution, the customer would have had to spend much more in terms of time and resources to assure the necessary best practices were followed to meet their quality requirements.

Building off of this effective relationship, the customer was able to extend this outsourcing partnership model easily into other business units, thereby maximizing the return on investment (ROI) from the experiences of this large project.


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