Every IT services organization has a central Process Group which drives the Process Audit with an objective of initiating process improvements/changes within the organization. So why does one need a separate Test Audit and what is the value addition as per quality management?
While Process Audits look into the documents from the point of view of presence and completion, test audits tend to dig deep and judge completion solely from the point of view of the project under audit. While Process Audits look into the project more from a standard or model compliance audit point of view, test audits look into the projects more from technology compliance and business/project end objective compliance.
We have seen several times that test organizations are apprised of the issues and the risks only after customer escalations and that too probably in the midst of a critical release where any intervention would permanently dent the customer’s confidence. Test Audits aim at resolving the above situations by helping teams in identifying the right strategies, plans and metrics, potential risks and strategizing the contingencies for their projects.
The detailed review of the testing artifacts ensuing the discussion helps in targeting the root cause for several issues in the project and further recommendations aim at resolving them.
Does it really work in the practical environment? Yes, it certainly does. MindTest™, Mindtree’s integrated test methodology, has Test Audits as part of its process. A data point from last 25+ Test Audits that MindTest™ conducted has recommendations ranging from as simple as writing elaborate test cases to changing the entire testing strategy. Analysis of the data collected from the customized checklists and templates form the basis of the audit recommendations.
The result? As we all know people take time to accept changes and it was no different for the first few test audits where recommendations looked into changing the entire test strategy, but gradually customers started appreciating and valuing what the Test Audits brought forth in the form of test metrics and other analytics. It not only helped them in understanding the project status but also instilled their confidence in the ability of Mindtree team. Since an external auditor was involved in the test audits the recommendations were completely unbiased and provided the outsiders view on the project scenario. This was more like getting the end users perspective in house even before the first phase of test execution! A proper execution then would mean smooth test execution, minimal risks, ability to take correct decisions, and finally predictability in product / application quality.
In summary, if you have an Independent Test organization which is accountable for product quality, Process Audit is just not enough. Test Audit and Process Audit together enhance the value.