The most recent World Quality Report found that IT executives do not think of quality assurance as a vacuum, but as a fully-integrated, impactful contributor to business goals. When asked about the objective of QA, 74 percent agreed that it was to "contribute to business growth and business outcomes."
The business value of QA processes shouldn't be taken for granted - if it's not a question that's actively addressed, there's a risk of becoming siloed. Once that happens, it's easy to develop priorities that don't reflect those of your users outside of IT.
Here's how to evaluate your current QA operations with business goals in mind.
Audit QA processes with goals in mind
Every QA process that you undertake should be directly linked to a business outcome. Say your team is testing the integrity of your web app during a surge in usage. In doing so, you’re serving "reduced downtime" as a business goal. The same goes when testing for the introduction of a new feature. Remove bugs before launch, and you’ll be pursuing "end-user experience and satisfaction" in the process.
Conduct an audit of your current broad testing processes, and assign a relevant business KPI to each. If a testing activity can't be linked to a business goal (or you're having to get a little too creative with the justifications) there’s a chance that it shouldn’t be prioritized.
If, for example, the business is aiming to release a minimum viable product quickly, it's probably not the time for QA perfectionism. Instead, you should ensure that the product works at a basic level to satisfy the MVP goals.
Learn your colleagues' language
Communication is a QA process, too. Colleagues outside of IT need to understand what’s happening, and why it’s happening. You’re reading this blog, so it’s safe to assume that you appreciate the importance and value of quality assurance. Non-technical stakeholders may not understand that, or how it contributes to business goals.
Ensure that there’s plenty of communication between departments, and that non-technical colleagues are receiving updates and metrics in a language they understand. Essentially, it’s a ‘human-first’ approach that accounts for different ways of thinking and learning.
Communicate across departments earlier rather than later, and it’ll become clearer that each department has a stake in the other’s success. It’ll also allow you to align your QA processes with those of other departments, so the business as a whole benefits from a fully joined-up environment, and shared timelines.
Investing in independence
That same World Quality Report summarizes the value of the alignment process:
"Spread the word, because the rest of the business needs to understand that if it helps IT to get things right, everyone wins.
IT can...help itself by getting closer to the business, learning its skills, and taking time to understand its objectives."
The better the organization performs, the more budget there will be for QA, and the more flexibility your team will have to guide the quality assurance process. It's a bit of a paradox, but improving performance and strengthening your team's independence is a matter of dismantling the silo.