You don’t want to be on that list. You know the one we’re talking about. The list of product gaffes, mistakes, and million dollar errors. There are brand names and unknowns who’ve made the list – everyone from the biggest software companies in the world to the space program, from pharmaceutical giants to national retail chains.
Nobody intends to be on the list. But sometimes, while there is a laser focus on delivering an actual product, not enough attention is paid to the testing, evaluation and change management process necessary to ensure that quality control remains intact from development through to delivery.
The important role of testing, QA and change management
The road to market for any product can be lengthy. From envisioning the business need and objective through to developing, refining and delivering a product or a service that will meet demand can take anywhere from a few months to several years. One of the critical components for market success for any industry is testing and quality assurance (QA). Consider the following:
- Auto-makers go through hundreds of test use cases for every car they manufacture. For doors alone they will run 84,000 open-and-close cycles to simulate ten years of customer use. This testing happens in a wide range of temperatures, simulating every possible condition.
- The six wind tunnels run by the National Research Council in Ottawa are used by public and private sector companies to test everything from the effects of icing on aircraft, through to analyzing athletes under various conditions to maximize speed and performance.
- Most drugs take approximately 12 years to get to market. A series of trials to ensure public safety means that the odds of approval are low with only 5 out of the 5,000 drugs that start the testing process actually ever making it.
The bottom line is that across multiple industries, for a product to actually get into market, it typically has to undergo a rigorous and lengthy testing process.
Why e-commerce projects need to prioritize testing and quality assurance
The same is true of your e-commerce replatforming project. Serious consideration, time and effort must be applied to testing, quality assurance and change management. Too often this part of the project is skimmed over or not addressed with the right people, processes or governance. In fact, many organizations simply assume that the developers will look after the testing component and fail to realize that product development and product testing require completely different skill-sets and approaches.
As e-commerce initiatives grow in complexity, the opportunity for errors increases. This simply means that a proper and thorough approach to testing is a fundamental component.
Different mindsets, different roles
One of the reasons to separate development and testing is that developers have a different mind-set than someone who is in QA. The developer is focused on making something work – developing a piece of code that can accomplish a task. For the QA or testing specialist, their goal is to make it not work; it’s to make it break, crash or stop functioning - completely the opposite skillset of what makes a developer great.
Is your baby really beautiful?
A second reason for separating development and QA/testing is that developers are creating something. And for anyone who creates, they are typically very proud and very attached to their work (as they should be). They are often loathe to find problems with their code. They instinctively take steps to show how well it works.
It’s a little bit like telling a parent that their baby is not beautiful. Every parent thinks their child is the most beautiful and brilliant child ever born. A QA/tester can look at the baby with an objective eye that the developer/parent cannot.
Big picture thinking benefits the project details
Finally, while development will and should complete unit testing as they work, they’re not looking at the big picture. They’re not testing their product to see how it fits end-to-end in the larger scheme of your e-commerce replatforming. That’s the role of your QA team and one that they’ll perform well as long as they have the authority, priority and tools to do their job.
Testers and QA bring a number of important skills that your e-commerce replatforming initiative can benefit from including:
- Cross-functional relationships across business and IT to help each group communicate and understand each other better
- A blended understanding of both the tactical and technical project needs, viewing the bigger picture from a single lens
- Reduced time to fix issues increasing the likelihood ofmeeting project timelines
- Good data and information to better support change management and project change risk assessments
- Overall governance for end-to-end accountability
A strong testing and QA environment should typically reduce the number of defects or errors as your e-commerce replatforming project comes to life. Respecting the important role they play will serve your project well.
As Forrester reports in their pitfall white paper, organizations who pay attention to all of the elements that need to undergo thorough testing including performance, progressions, UX tuning, SEO, merchandiser, customer service and proper content preparation will mitigate many post-launch project woes.
After all, the only list you want to appear on is the one identifying your project as an example of how to do things right. And valuing testing and QA is one of the elements that just might get you there.