February 10, 2016
With each new customer engagement come differing challenges, but in order to get off on the right foot there are a number of fundamental things to consider before beginning work. Here's 5 points to think about for successful engagement.
With each new customer engagement come differing challenges, but in order to get off on the right foot there are a number of fundamental things that I consider before beginning work:
1. Who are my contacts?
When starting an engagement, I always check who I should be communicating with. This is not just the customer that has commissioned work but also people within QualiTest and any third parties involved. Experience tells me that I may not have been involved in all the conversations leading up to the engagement.
Setting clear lines of communication means that stakeholders always know that we are always willing to engage in discourse and be able to communicate to them how the work is proceeding and who to collaborate with if any obstacles are encountered.
In order to communicate it is always important to find a happy medium that will not be too intrusive on the customer’s working day and fits their organisation’s culture. This might be phone, email, Skype, WebEx, etc.
2. What are my objectives?
I always seek clarity around objectives from the customer and QualiTest. Again I am aware that I may not have been party to all conversations leading up to the engagement. Getting a clear and concise definition of my objectives at the start means that I can create an effective plan of action without concern that I have missed key elements and having to do re-work later.
Documenting those objectives as they are understood and confirming them with the customer and QualiTest is an ideal way to find out whether anything has been missed. A little persistence may be required at this stage to make sure that what you have documented has been read, understood and accepted by all parties!
No one will want to have to do work all over again because they weren’t aware of a key aspect of what needed to be achieved.
3. What are my deliverables?
Deliverables can be in many forms (documentation, test completion, support) and should be tailored to the customer demand.
Some organisations prefer formal documentation and would like Entry and Exit Reports, Acceptance Plans, Daily Progress Reports, Test Coverage Matrices, Defect Reports in addition to the testing required by the engagement.
Others prefer a lighter approach with a clear understanding of the objectives and deliverables at the start of the work and a report or statement of confidence at the end. These deliverables can also be dictated by the length of the engagement.
Whichever approach is preferred, I always make sure I have a clear and agreed statement of what deliverables are expected and the templates and tools required to deliver the deliverables.
4. How long is it going to take?
Once objectives and deliverables are established, metrics can be agreed as to how long it is going to take. This can occasionally be tricky as the time needed to test may not fit in with the project timescales of the customer.
Included in the metrics should be allowance for things to go horribly wrong! It is the stock and trade of a tester to make things go wrong, the environment may fail or be incompatible with the test tools or the customer may not be ready to proceed. These possibilities must be planned for along with mitigation activities to meet those challenges should they happen.
5. And finally – Do I have the tools to do the job?
Being mindful that the tool may not just be a piece a software, but a resource, access rights or the pertinent knowledge set in order to complete the task. If the tools aren’t there, ask for it, acquire it or find a suitable alternative.