This weeks guest article was written by 2i's test consultancy team with input from Dave Kelly and provides an insight into selecting your supplier and ensuring that testing is an integral part of your project from the start.
Idea to Reality – The Supplier Minefield
“We need an app/website/Internet of Thingamajigs Alexa VR experience!” was the cry from the board room. And so, your organisation starts its journey towards establishing your digital presence. While the journey starts with best intentions, it can quickly become costly, time consuming and never quite reach the intended destination.
What do you do if you are a non-IT organisation or a startup with limited resources? How do you ensure that you are engaging the correct partner?
The ability to make the technology ambitions of an organisation realisable is only achievable through engagement with suppliers with whom the path to successful delivery of solutions is well-trodden and understood. The right supplier can work with you to deliver the right solution for your needs. So how do you know if a supplier is the right fit to become a ‘trusted partner’? What part can the right test approach play in measuring and evaluating that your journey is on the right path?
Define your outcomes
While your stakeholders may wish to turn your ‘concept to cash’ without delay, investing time in building an agreed vision of what you want to achieve smooths the path to delivery.
Stating your requirements clearly will significantly reduce any potential delays that could occur when you start to build your product. Asking (and documenting) the following questions will go a long way to helping you build what you expect:
By defining clear requirements that your solution should fulfil, you can better communicate your vision to your potential supplier and clearly state what you need of their services.
From a quality assurance perspective, this ensures that a test approach can be implemented which will adequately evaluate and measure that the solution delivers the outcomes you need and that each party understands their responsibilities.
Look for Synergy
Synergy is a term that is used as a target attribute of any partnership, however it is often expected to happen organically without planning and cultivation. The key to selecting the right partner is looking for where they have strengths in the areas you have weaknesses. Testing is often a neglected part of this assessment, and may even be an afterthought instead of an integral aspect of the development. When assessing prospective suppliers, you should question and assess:
The right partner will allow you to implement a ‘one team’ operating model, where the outcomes you require are owned across each organisation. Testing then becomes an integral part of verifying that the team is delivering expected outcomes.
Continuously evaluate your position
Once you have the foundations in place you can build a business partnership with clearly agreed outcomes and ownership. However... it doesn’t stop there.
What methods can you use to measure that you are continually progressing in the right direction?
Often the outcomes of a technology project are agreed upfront and then only measured when the supplier delivers the ‘finished’ product. Only at that 'final' point will you discover if the solution matches. This is after significant cost and time has already been invested.
Implementing a test approach which evaluates if your outcomes are being met at the earliest opportunity in the Software Development Life Cycle can significantly improve the team’s ability to stay on track. You can do this by clarifying your expectations with a supplier i.e.:
Engage with a supplier that promises:
Once you have chosen your supplier and they are building your dream product, you must think about your team’s assurance approach. You should ask:
Note the recurring theme of testing – building in the ability to test throughout the project will help to ensure that you get what you want. So, a supplier who can work with you on answering these questions can set you on the path to a successful delivery.
Of course, both parties may not have all the skills required to address all of these questions but asking them as part of your test approach definition allows for any gaps to be understood and highlighted at an early stage.
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"Idea to Reality: Engage with suppliers and test, test, test" First published on Company Connecting October 2017