Tips to Build an Effective Test Center of Excellence

Shyam Ramanathan
Director, QA
Article

There is a science to building a Test Center of Excellence (TCoE). It involves various key steps such as customer buy-in, process orientation, enabling effective communication channels and reporting against critical success factors. Here are the 9 important tips to build an effective Test Center of Excellence.

  1. Get buy-in from the sponsor: When an organization moves towards centralizing their QA and testing services there is usually resistance from all the teams involved. This is why it is critical to get complete buy-in from the sponsor to ensure that all teams are well aligned with the plan and every step involved in establishing the TCoE.
  2. Evangelize with the project team: It is imperative to ensure that project teams are clear with the changes a TCoE would bring within the QA organization. This can be achieved by having an introductory meeting explaining the business objectives and vision behind establishing the TCoE. It would address the concerns of the project team right at the beginning of the process. This would help the team realize that creating a TCoE is a shift towards improving overall cost of ownership and would not have any impact on the existing business situation.
  3. Establish a strong team: Team formation is critical to the overall success of TCoE. Usually a TCoE would require a liaison between the customer, business and project teams. It is important to involve the sponsor in the interview and selection process of the team. Ensuring that the customer is involved in the selection of the team builds trust and results in a smooth transition to a TCoE.
  4. Define the process: The whole point of a TCoE is to centralize the QA function. In order to achieve this, one has to create well-defined processes for demand management. For example, defining how a request would be directed to the QA team, including different workflows for maintenance, development projects and differentiating between agile and waterfall process.
  5. Define the templates: One of the most important steps for creating a TCoE is to develop common templates that all project teams can follow. Define templates for each phase of the SDLC namely requirements, test design, test planning, test scripting, test execution and closure.
  6. Create status reports: Define the frequency of status reports that needs to be sent and define the audience. For example project teams would generally like to receive daily status on execution and open defects. The sponsor would like to receive weekly status updates. Ensure common templates are defined for various reporting channels.
  7. Metrics management: Identifying the key metrics that will drive the TCoE is a critical step to ensure the overall success of the program. Some common metrics are Defect Removal Efficiency, Test Coverage, and Test Execution metrics.
  8. Select tools: Decide what tools are to be used for the TCoE. If the tools have not been used before, ensure that a proof of concept is formulated on select number of critical test cases. This will give confidence on the tool selected. Once the tool is selected develop a user guide so that everyone can understand what the project objectives are and how the tool is going to be used.
  9. Develop an operating model: This serves as the guide for all things related to the TCoE. It consists of the process, methods, tools, communication, RACI that is going to be followed for the engagement. It will act as a reference to measure overall operations of the TCoE and to ensure every team member clearly knows the objectives of the TCoE and how to achieve them.

If all the above points are taken care it will ensure a smooth functioning TCoE.

Shyam Ramanathan Director, QA Shyam has been working in the Quality Assurance world for over 19 years, where he has developed a breadth of knowledge and experience in test management, planning, design, execution, and establishing global delivery teams across geographies and building test Center of Excellence.

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