Getting the value out of Test Process Improvement initiatives

Organizations start Test Process Improvement programmes for a number of reasons:

* Curiosity about their current level of testing maturity
* A desire to achieve a desired level of maturity
* To fix actual or perceived shortfalls in testing capability.

The activity is often initiated by the manager of the testing function with a view to “dipping their toe in the water” and then making a decision on how to proceed with any improvement initiatives or programmes once the outcome of the initial maturity assessment is known.  This can be done for a modest financial investment.  If understanding maturity is the purpose of the assessment is the desired outcome of the assessment then mission accomplished.  If however, as is usually the case, the purpose is to kick off a process improvement programme then further investment will be required in terms of people and funding.

I said earlier that many assessments are initiated by testing managers. Where this is the case there are often difficulties in implementing any required change as the improvements required are often outside the core testing purview, requiring changes to be made in other areas of the overall development process.  Sogeti’s PointZero approach recognises this difficulty and identifies that senior level sponsorship (outside of testing) is required to drive change within the organization.  So it is probably best to think of test process initiatives as business process change focused on testing and build a guiding coalition of staff at senior and grass roots levels to implement change and to quickly address any difficulties that arise throughout the process. John Kotter in his book “Our Iceberg is Melting” identifies that this guiding coalition and developing a sense of urgency around the change programme are essential to implementing any successful change programme. 

What this really means is that any organization looking to embark on a significant testing change programme rather than tactical incremental improvement will need buy-in at all levels and across many disciplines within the business ranging from procurement, development, business analysis and project management.  Where this hasn’t been achieved the speed of change is slower, the failure rate of improvements is far higher and the financial investment to support the programme is often missing or harder to identify.  Sogeti’s experience in delivering assessment and managing the subsequent improvement programmes can mitigate these problems through the identification of real Return in Investment for implementing change as well as managing the change process through PointZero to establish senior level sponsorship to support the programme across the business.  Sogeti uses its TPI Next® assessment model to assess test process maturity and identify and prioritize the most important areas to address.

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