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Why Planning for Quality Assurance is Important


Fortunately, most companies do not replace their core every two or three years.  Therefore, when a company starts a major implementation, it may lack experience in planning and staffing quality assurance for a large project.  


Reviews of prior projects involving core insurance systems show that effective quality assurance is a primary ingredient in the success of the projects.  Quality assurance is the eyes and ears on the project, providing the project team and management with vital information on the status of the project.  Projects with excessive levels of defects tend to spin out of control, resulting in budget overruns or cancellations.  Without proper quality assurance, stakeholders in the project are often unaware of the problems until schedules have been substantially overrun.  With proper quality assurance, project management is able to take corrective action and provide confidence that the resulting production systems will work.

Quality assurance can consume between 25% and 50% of the total effort of the project.  Therefore, it makes sense to carefully planning quality assurance as with other aspects of the project.  The challenge in quality assurance planning is to provide sufficient defect avoidance and elimination at a cost acceptable to the project.  If quality assurance planning is omitted or delayed in the project, opportunities to achieve cost effectiveness can be missed.


Jump Start™


Jump Start is a four-week engagement in which Waysys works with the company's quality assurance staff and project manager to plan the quality assurance effort for a project.  This engagement should occur during the planning stage of the project.  The purpose of the engagement is to develop the quality assurance strategy, staffing, and cost estimates.  A second purpose is to inform and train the company's staff in modern quality assurance techniques, including automated testing and test management.


By undertaking this engagement, the company will be able to:


Acquire detailed knowledge about modern, effective quality assurance practices and tools used with actual Guidewire projects


Anticipate staffing, equipment, and tooling needs, thus helping it stay within budgets


Improve quality assurance practices to help avoid cost overruns and defects in production systems.




At the end of the engagement, the company will have:


software quality assurance plan (based on IEEE Standard 730-2002)

estimation spreadsheet with  test case count and effort estimates

initial quality assurance schedule

budget for quality assurance tools


Software Quality Assurance Plan


The preparation of the software quality assurance plan is an opportunity to reach a consensus within the project team on how quality assurance will be conducted on the project.  The preparation also helps anticipate the kind of staffing, equipment, and tools needed to implement the approach.  Topics that will be reviewed include:


Status of Requirements.  The engagement team will review the status of system requirements, including requirements for integration and data conversion.  The team will identify areas where requirements need to be expanded.


Testing Strategy.  Using the Waysys approach, testing is divided into categories like :


Unit testing

User interface testing

Transactional testing    

Business rule testing

Forms and letters testing

Report testing

Integration testing

Data conversion testing

Performance testing

User acceptance testing

Regression testing


The engagement team will discuss and select the approach for each category of testing.  The team identifies areas where testing needs to focus and areas where little or no testing is required.  The team can decide where it will apply manual or automated testing.  The team will also identify the approach to developing test data.  


Staffing.  Based on the testing approach, the team will identify quality assurance roles.


Quality Assurance Tools.  The team will review available quality assurance tools and recommend additional tools.  Waysys demonstrates a variety of tools to aid the team in making a decision.  These tools include test management software, defect tracking tools, test automation tools, performance test tools, and metrics tracking software.


Server Environments.  An implementation project for Guidewire requires a number of environments for development, testing, and of course production.  The team will develop requirements for equipment and software to support the necessary testing environments.


Metrics Collection.  The purpose of collecting metrics is to provide the project team, project management, IT management, business management, and other stakeholders with these types of information:


The impact on staffing and schedule of the quality assurance activities as they evolve through the project


The impact on staffing and schedule of the defect repair efforts


Measures of the quality of the system implementation and its impact on future maintenance of the system


Indications of defect hot spots, components where the defect rate is exceptionally high and which require attention


Indications when the system is ready for deployment.


Training.  The team will identify training needed by the quality assurance staff to perform the roles identified in the plan.


Test Case Effort Estimate


Using Waysys templates and the categories of tests, the team will develop an initial estimate of effort.  This estimate involves:


Estimating the number of test cases to be performed in each category of tests

Estimating the effort in preparing test cases, including any programming involved in automated tests

Estimating the effort in performing the test.


Since these estimates are being done at the beginning of the project, they are subject to change.  However, they tend to be more accurate than “back-of-the-envelop” estimates.  This work allows estimation of the number of people needed to staff the various roles identified in the quality assurance plan.  These estimates also form a basis for comparing estimates against project metrics.  


Quality Assurance Schedule


Based on the overall project schedule, the team will develop the quality assurance portion of the schedule in Microsoft Project.  The team will use the information from the quality assurance plan and the test case effort estimates.


Tool Budget


The team will prepare estimates of the cost for providing any quality assurance tools described in the plan.