The what, why, and how of a Testing Center of Excellence

Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) is a framework to be considered when the quality of the delivered product is lacking or when the process and documentation are confusing. Let’s take a look at this!

Author: Gabriela Ponce

As an increase of demanding tasks is observed on testing teams and as the teams themselves evolve and grow, a new challenge arises: What can we do to reduce testing time and at the same time improve the quality of the products? Lately, the implementation of a Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) is the answer to this and a great alternative for most enterprises working with Agile methodologies.

What is a Testing Center of Excellence?

The what, why, and how of a TCoE

A TCoE is a framework that standardizes test processes, best practices, and facilitates tools to ensure the optimal utilization of testing resources. It also provides metrics and other deliverables to measure the efficiency of the current methodology.

Usually, a Testing Center of Excellence team is composed of testing specialists from multiple roles and insights which make a global vision of the challenges and goals of the team possible. Their expertise must provide practical knowledge and contribute to the specification of unified processes.

Why do we need a TCoE?

The what, why, and how of a TCoEAfter years of working in software development projects, we believe the following are considered the most important benefits that TCoE can provide to an organization, despite its specific challenges:

1. Optimization of delivery schedules

The possibility of automating a repetitive task and the use of templates provide a reduced test execution time. Also, the implementation of standard processes reduces the idle time between common tasks and accelerates the resolution process on the most demanding ones.

This can be put into practice, for example, by having the team work together to build a repository with all templates and standard processes documented. This way, every team member can work aligned with each other.

2. Increase in quality and risk management improvement

The what, why, and how of a Testing Center of Excellence

The implementation of unified work rules could increase the quality of the product by reducing the impact of usual project risks.

This is granted with an early evaluation and supported by the use of metrics that measure the efficiency of the applied methodology.

Returning again to the example of the team-created repository, there is a higher chance to avoid late deliveries or undetected critical bugs if there is a guideline for the team members to rely on so they can focus on the quality of the product instead.

3. Cost reduction and a more competitive team

Considering that the implemented processes must be goal oriented, there is a higher opportunity for the team to develop their skills and specialize themselves according to specific objectives. In the long term, this could lead to a cost reduction due to the optimization of tasks that are implemented by a skilled team.

How do we implement a TCoE?

The what, why, and how of a Testing Center of Excellence

To build a TCoE is never an effortless task since there is not a unique formula that can be applied to any project.

However, there are a few mandatory steps to have in consideration:

1. Commitment to quality and establishment of goals

It is fundamental for a TCoE team to work with a clear, pragmatic goal. Setting specific and achievable objectives in the short term can help the team to stay focused and gain perspective towards the bigger goal. But in the end, the implementation of a TCoE results in a qualified and effective team that delivers a higher quality product.

2. Definition and documentation of a practical and realistic process

By having a standard process clearly documented, the risks of deviation and the resolution time get reduced. Also, it eases daily cooperation between teammates and gives them the opportunity to focus on their tasks and improve their performance.

3. Automation of all repeatable tasks

This can significantly reduce the time invested in everyday tasks. Furthermore, if the approach involves the reuse of test cases, the time needed for data collection and templates creation will decrease as well.

4. Selection of the right tools

The what, why, and how of a Testing Center of Excellence

It is highly recommended to decide at an early stage what tools and technologies will be involved in the testing process.

This would not only give us time to figure out if the project requirements can be covered, but it also helps us to determine if the members of the team are familiar with them.

5. Constant training of the team

Right after the selection of the tools to be used on a specific project, a training program must be established for all the team members. This, as the communication of the standard process, would allow them to completely focus on the execution of the assigned tasks.

6. Implementation of the Shift Left perspective

The Shift Left approach requires an early involvement of the testing team in the software development lifecycle and can be an effective way to reduce working time (and therefore costs) by avoiding defects to reach production environments. Additionally, it promotes the whole team to interiorize Agile procedures as well as encouraging them to integrate and work in synergy.

You might like this: Testing in Scrum: 4 reasons why testers are needed from day 1

7. Selection of the right metrics to evaluate performance and possible improvements

The what, why, and how of a Testing Center of Excellence

According to the specific steps and goals, a TCoE team must suggest and apply a relevant set of metrics, such as percentage of rejected defects and number of critical defects.

This will ensure the correct validation of the variables that are related to the established objectives and will mark the areas that need more consideration.

To sum up

The implementation of a TCoE can be a challenge to larger and established teams, but it is a worthy task to assume considering its benefits in the long run, such as an increase of overall quality and a reduction of delivery time.

With the agile-compatible process and optimization of tasks that a Testing Center of Excellence ensures, this becomes a remarkable framework to be considered when the quality of the delivered product is lacking or when the process and documentation are confusing or inconsistent.

Ultimately, its implementation will lead to a reduction of costs and time between deployments with higher quality deliverables, guaranteed by a highly competent and trained team.

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