Better ways of working: curious quality assurance

One of the many ways our teams at Emergn go above and beyond is by making the extra effort to see what others may not see. We’re constantly looking to learn, discover and improve. This is especially important throughout the quality assurance (QA) process as we seek to bring the most value possible to our clients.   

We have extremely high-quality standards—and so do our clients. While we wouldn’t settle for anything less, meeting those standards no matter what challenges come our way is no easy feat. Whether business logic changes on the fly and causes function bugs or inconsistencies have been found in newly built features, our team is up for the challenge. Value, Flow, Quality (VFQ), our approach to transforming the way people and companies work, is built on a set of guiding principles to face these challenges and make the QA process smarter.   

Delivering value early and often 

Whenever we come across functional bugs, it’s easy to ask, “Well, if we collaborated so closely up to this point, why do we still have functional bugs and how can we fix them?” But no matter how much we collaborate in software development, there’s always a degree of the unknown and some bugs we just can’t identify until we have working software. Ultimately, functional bugs are a natural part of the feedback loop and learning cycle.  

This is where the VFQ approach makes a big impact in helping us solve the challenge. By delivering value early and often, we can validate working software as early as possible, bringing bugs to light sooner. Delivering value early and often means we get the chance to learn and improve—in the case of finding bugs sooner, we are able to make fixes when there is the least risk and least cost associated with doing so.   

This was the case recently at Emergn when we worked on microservices for a client which needed to be tested by an external security testing firm. Creating a working Continuous-Integration/Continuous-Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline for these services early enabled the security testing to be completed by the external firm sooner and highlighted risks in our work. This allowed us to both address these risks sooner and educate our own specialists. Moving forward, specialists involved could check for these risk areas in future services they were developing, allowing us to bring more value to the client even in cases where a proper CI/CD pipeline has not yet been developed. 

Identifying and addressing issues

Whether a client engagement is brand new or mature, new processes, delays, and hurdles always arise. With that in mind, we’re always on the lookout for obstacles we can identify and address. 

To identify those pain points, we hold regular retrospective sessions to collaboratively discuss our thoughts and determine the root cause of a given issue. Once that root cause is identified, we can take action. Often, that action takes shape as a spike ticket, which we understand as an experimentation card.  

The purpose of the experimentation card is to find a solution for the problem at hand. If the experiment’s result is invalid, with no possible solution, we simply revisit the action from a different perspective to identify a resolution.

Delivering quality through fast feedback

Teams don’t always have time to take all corner cases into account when designing systems. These corner cases typically impact users’ ability to interact with the system, but they also impact the teams working on the system given the issues need to be triaged, prioritized, and corrected.  

Feedback-driven quality definitions empower QA teams to give these corner cases more attention in the earliest phases of the QA process – sometimes even before there is anything to test. To validate the quality level of a system, QA teams need to understand the business needs and should work side-by-side with the development team on implementation and testing. 

We define quality in two ways:

  • Building the right thing for our customers, by achieving what is desired 
  • Building the thing right, by creating a product that works the way the user or customer intends it to 

With our VFQ approach, we work in deliberate feedback loops that integrate testing early in the process to ensure we are moving in the right direction for both our customers and the business – and ultimately building the right thing and building that thing right.  

Interested in learning more about how VFQ can solve some of the toughest business challenges? Check out the other blogs in this series.