Testing and quality assuring all parts of your online solution isn't profitable, which is why you should choose an area to focus on. That's why the first step is crucial: Clarify which parts or your website or system that are the most business critical.
Make sure you discuss it with several relevant parties in the organisation so that you get a broad perspective of the business and the role played by the platform.
We recommend starting the process with a brainstorm - and later narrowing it down an accurate list where functionality and parts of the solution are prioritised.
It's really important to have a broad perspective to avoid a blinkered process.
Once you have put together a specific list of priorities for the company's online solution, you should define some quality factors that you can use to assess the priorities against.
Setting specific figures can be challenging if you have nothing to compare with. But it's important to achieve measurable results in the subsequent optimisation process and investment. In many cases, there are analyses, statistics and experiences available, which all provide specific recommendations for e.g. performance and optimum load time for the best user experience.
Next, you should pick those test methods that provide the most focused, measurable and effective testing of the previously chosen quality factors.
As in step 1, we recommend starting with a brainstorm of all the methods that might be relevant for the quality factors. Next, prioritise and pick the methods. You could base these on factors like effect, contribution ratio, time spent, available resources etc.
We use a number of different test methods, depending on the project's focus area. These include e.g. Unit Testing, API-testing, Load and stress tests, SEO testing, Peer review, functionality testing, browser/device testing etc.. Tests can be done as black/white box tests, i.e.with or without knowledge of architecture and set-up in the underlying system. Some are best done manually, while others can be automated. Several test methods require a knowledge of specific tools or methods and often in-depth knowledge of the web solution's code.
It's also important to be aware that for projects under development, quality should be prioritised as early on in the process as possible to have the biggest effect. For example, Unit Testing is conducted at the same time as the system development to ensure business critical functionality. Ensuring high performance requires prioritising the choice of system architecture right from the project's start. Equally, a high conversion ration depends on the design choice, which is done early on in the development process.
We, therefore, recommend that the decision about which test methods to use and how you conduct them is one that is made together with your system supplier.
The final step is to conduct the chosen tests, measure the quality factors and evaluate status. Depending on the test method chosen, this step can be done once to provide a snapshot view and to uncover any problem areas that need fixing. Or it could be done iteratively, allowing you to keep a regular check of the ongoing optimisation and improvement. The approach you choose really depends on the project's focus area and the relevant quality factors.
Once you have completed the chosen tests and gathered specific, measurable values, you need to evaluate the test results. This should be done in order of priority of the functions you picked in step 1. Then decide which measures are the most profitable to prioritise.
Quality assurance - a good investment
The scope of resource use and investment in the quality assurance process depends on the methods used, and also on how comprehensive these methods and their subsequent optimisation are. This, in turn, depends on the relevant quality factors and, finally, on the business focus of your web solution.
The earlier on in the development process you choose to focus and prioritise your measures, the greater the chance of finding any issues, and the smaller the consequences of such issues. Analyses show that the cost of fixing a problem rises by up to twenty times the later it is discovered.
A problem could be anything from a bug to inappropriate choice of architecture or design. It's easy to imagine how expensive it would be to do a redesign once you've implemented and launched - compared with if you did it earlier on in the design phase. The same applies to other areas of the solution and functionality.
Quality assurance processes are an investment, and the cost and consequence of avoiding quality assurance rise the longer you avoid it.
So do you dare to avoid it?
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