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Software quality: a mind game

Software quality: a mind game

Martina Fabbretti

A real story

Raise your hand if you have, at least once in your career, relied on a tool to solve your most complex challenges. Wait…you did not raise your hand?! How may lonely and abandoned Trello boards, or Jira projects, or spreadsheets do you have?

Yes, we’ve all been there. And if you are working in the world of Quality Assurance, maybe even more than once. Bringing quality into your organization is one of the greatest challenges you are facing daily. And there are so many tools out there promising to be the all-in-1 solution to your struggles.

So why many technology initiatives are still failing?

Tools are necessary but not sufficient. Software quality is a mind game: the right mindset is the key to success. Do you disagree? Keep reading, and let me prove it!

A real case scenario.

Today I’d like to share with you the story of René Arthur Kuypers, Test manager in Provincie Noord-Holland, and how he has been able to instill a quality mindset throughout the organization.

René is a Qualibrate user with 2 passions: electric drums and quality assurance.

He joined Provincie Noord Holland in 2017 and he soon realized their SAP software was not tested, and had spread around documentation of the business processes in place. That’s why he decided to invest in a test automation tool. Among the others, Qualibrate was selected: with a centralized approach and a single recording they would have been able to create the process documentation missing, run UAT, and test automation.

Something went wrong.

The initial plan was to have 2 functional analysts trained on Qualibrate. They had to create the test scripts on the SAP systems. But unfortunately, that did not occur. People were reluctant to change and they did not see the benefit of investing time in software quality.

René soon realized that if you don’t involve everyone in your team, the tool itself will be a waste of money. CTO, testers, business people: they all needed to embrace the change and adopt a software quality mindset.

That’s why he had to change strategy: the new plan was to start using Qualibrate himself and prove everyone that, with the right approach, a powerful tool can reinvent the way you deliver quality in your software processes.

Such a challenge can be intimidating, but René knew very well how to get things done, even the most complex. “Preparation is the best thing you can do”, he told me. He had a scope: convince all the different stakeholders involved that software quality is trivial to a healthy organization.

He broke the scope into small steps and started with the quick wins.

Preparation is the best thing you can do

Different audiences, different messages.

He recorded his first SAP business process with Qualibrate. “That wasn't rocket science”.

It automatically generated a digital representation of how the process works. It captured all the steps and screenshots performed, including data and technical information.

René exported everything into PDF and showed the live interactive business process to the management. “That’s how you create lean, relevant, and up to date documentation”. No more spread around documentation, just a solid business process knowledge base that is the starting point of a good software quality strategy.

He got them!

Then it was the time to get the business people on board. “Quality assurance is a business matter first of all”. But different audiences have different mindsets and require different messages.

He knew the business people have a very important need: that the ERP is able to function properly and support them in their daily activities. But they also had an issue: no time to dedicate to software quality. Too busy with their daily activities.

So, how did René solve this paradox? Having them working on software quality, while carrying on their daily activities as usual. He showed them how they could record a transaction within Qualibrate, and how they could run accelerated UAT in no time. Still, carrying out their tasks.

Needless to say, they got very excited and started getting passionate and involved, finally supporting the culture of process quality.

Quality assurance is a business matter first of all

Continuous improvement.

Minds were changed. Now that everyone was on board he had to create a robust regression baseline for his testing activities. He wanted to create testing on-demand service and run the regression baseline whenever it was needed, even every day or multiple times a day.

Recording in Qualibrate was a kid game. But that’s not all if you want to leverage on its full capabilities and create bulletproof test cases: data management, variables, loops, object selectors. All these advanced functionalities can sound overwhelming.

He decided to deep dive into Qualibrate training and keep optimizing his test scripts adding bits and pieces of the things he was learning. He started with SAP but he soon extended it to TopDesk and Identity Access Management.

It’s like playing the guitar: the first time you do your fingers hurt so much. And your brain hurts too. But don’t let your brain stop you! Train, train, and train again. A tiny bit every day and your fingers will hurt always less.

That’s, again, a mind game!

He was finally able to build a bulletproof regression baseline. He adopted a modular approach, very easy to maintain. He created highly reusable pieces and put them together in robust end-to-end scenarios.

You can read the detailed success story of Provincie Noord-Holland journey to software quality here.

Not the end.

Now you might think that the story is over but it’s not. If you ask him he will still tell you that he has 2 studios where he practices daily: the electric drums, and Qualibrate. Optimizing software quality is a never-ending story.

Meanwhile, he will have to take some time to train other people within his organization. The management soon realized that software testing is a thing to take seriously: they decided to expand René’s winning approach to other areas of the business, with the help of Qualibrate.

My takeaways

So what are the winning factors to implement a tool successfully?

A powerful tool is definitely a plus, but it’s not enough.
Create the mindset and culture of quality assurance throughout the organization, first.
Show the stakeholders involved how they could benefit from taking software quality seriously.

Don’t even start if you don’t have a plan! Most technology initiatives fail as they start on the wrong foot by deciding on the tool before understanding how it will be useful. So settle a goal, your requirements and choose the right tool for your needs. Then, as René did, break it into smaller steps, action points. And start from the quick wins.

Challenge your skills and the teams’ daily with a continuous improvement mindset. There’s no limit to optimization!

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