CFO Technology - Effective Quality Assurance Testing in a Remote Environment

As the pandemic continues to affect daily life, it is uncertain when employees will return to consistently working in a physical office environment. Many companies have developed strategies to combat the negative impact to technology implementations, specifically within the testing programs. Many programs are capable of handling occasional periods of time away from the office – program stakeholders were not necessarily in the same location, and end users belonged to business verticals across the geographical footprint of an organization. However, considerations should be made for fully work-from-home teams as the timeline to return to the office continues to be pushed out. Programs often rely on some level of in-person collaboration and crisp transition of tasks. Even a minimal disruption of team co-location may cause compounding delays in the project plan. Given the intricate timelines and numerous participants, delays due to external factors – rarely accounted for in a project plan – can have damaging impacts to delivery.

As such, it is important to be aware of the following issues:

  • Time Constraints: Transitioning a team to working from home often requires greater detail in project documentation. Additional time to document tasks, next steps and status will reduce available time associates have for execution.
  • Extended Hours: Inefficiencies in a work from home environment can create pressure to frequently work outside of normal hours to hit original targets, impacting work-life balance and adding extra pressure to team deadlines.
  • Technology Requirements: Immediate increase in physical technology needs such as additional laptops, monitors, printers and remote access tokens may strain available inventory. Additional technology devices, remote access and home/public networks could have an impact on security and performance as well.
  • Query Clarification: Ad hoc query resolution often allows for timely remediation of issues that delay hand-offs. Eliminating co-location increases difficulty in scheduling ad hoc meetings to address stakeholder queries.
  • Latency: An increased volume of remote access users has the potential to make accessing large data files more difficult. Team members may unknowingly pull data simultaneously, creating a strain on provisioning systems.
  • Team Building: Developing a strong team through relationship building and knowledge sharing is much more difficult in a remote environment.
Key Considerations
  • Workflow: Ensure teams have clearly defined workflows and understand the process around handoff of tasks to safeguard against stalled progress; if possible, dedicate a project manager to monitor.
    • Documentation of Tasks: Project teams often deal with inadequate documentation – detailed instructions of next steps after a handoff are critical in a work from home environment.
    • If teams are using tracking software, increase level of detail to make tracking progress more visible; add new fields or dimensionality and utilize subtasks to show progress.
  • Staggered Access: To the extent possible, create a schedule for exporting data and accessing any centralized systems to reduce burden.
  • Status Updates: Daily update meetings should be held to keep everyone engaged and aware of testing status, including the testing team, change management team and at least one person from the technology team.
    • Have a structured agenda to keep this daily meeting on track.
    • Review each tester’s assignments to ensure tasks are progressing as planned.
    • Have a detailed resource plan that can be adjusted if assignments need to be shifted for any reason.
  • Script Development: Ensure test scripts account for the various technologies and devices that users will leverage. Security and firewalls should be heavily considered due to increased remote access usage.
  • Script Execution: Test scripts should be written at a level of detail that leaves very little room for interpretation. Taking the time to over-document test scripts up front can save time and reduce the number of questions.
    • Have a documented plan that testers can follow should they encounter issues / questions during script execution.
  • Bug Tracking: Daily updates will promote timely solutions.
    • Create defect documentation and assign defect resolution to the developer who worked on the applicable functionality.
    • Perform root cause analysis to determine functional errors, communication errors and scope creep. Home network issues will be a more common root cause than normal.
    • Ensure code is regression tested after the fix has been developed.
    • Track until bug-fix is migrated to higher environments (UAT, Pre-Prod, Prod).
  • Environment Maintenance: Closing the test environments for any period of time should be well communicated with all team members. Consider advanced warning, calendar notifications and continuous updates with participants to minimize disruption and keep them well informed.
  • Team Building Activities: Schedule team building activities to improve the team’s moral and effectiveness. Engaging in video calls will help build relationships and encourage accountability and knowledge sharing.

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