My co-Twitterrer, Ewald Roodenrijs (@ewaldroodenrijs), a Senior Test Manager, wrote about the importance of integrating qualty assurance in projects. Go here for the Dutch version, and here for the English one.
From a logical point of view, you’d think, of course quality assurance is a must. But in reality, it still surprises (disappoints) me how quality assurance gets deprioritised in budget decisions. Totally agree with him when he pointed out that quality assurance is usually considered a cost first — and not an essential one most of the times — than something that actually increases efficiency and ultimately leads to (development and project) cost reduction. An integrated evaluation approach right from the start of a project doesn’t necessarily mean that you can or should allot less testing time, but definitely it implies less defects. Less time testing for defects means more time can be alloted for other measure that can lead to better quality (e.g. more development time to improve a functonality).
In practice, having an integrated evaluation approach has a lot to do with both the project methodology and internal processes (of the organisation) in place. The QA process should help the project run smoother, not hinder the dynamics. Orgs should be clear with what exactly ‘review processes’ involve in terms of time and resources and overall project methodology. A step back would actually be to determine what is quality in the first place. A clear set of accpetance criteria should be identified and agreed by the parties involved. There are lots of cases when too many stakeholders or reviewers get involved in the whole evauation process that it deters progress rather than facilitate it.
I personally like the agile methodology because of its test-driven approach. Evaluation / acceptance criteria is a basic principle and approach to developing and running the project. Evaluation is not a by-product, but a required function not just by a tester but by other team members, especially the product owner / business analyst and developers.