How We Reduce Total Cost Of Quality

Posted by John Bunting on 16 January 2013

With awareness now high about the amount of total project budget potentially consumed by testing, our customers are increasing asking us to help them identify how they can increase test efficiency and drive down their costs. There are a variety of ways to approach this challenge, including the use of test automation tools, alternative testing methodologies or alternative resourcing models and managed services.

However, point solutions or a focus purely on testing may not always deliver the best long-term results. Optimation is helping customers transform the way they deliver and manage testing services by adopting a Total Cost of Quality approach, which works across the whole SDLC to measure and improve quality.

So what do we mean by Total Cost of Quality? Optimation define the Cost of Quality as the cost of Good Quality (the cost expended to identify and prevent defects) plus the cost of Bad Quality (the cost to fix defects that arise and the harm they cause).

Testing total cost of quality

Reductions in overall cost of quality can be reduced by a combination of:

Improved test efficiency - achieving the same level of good quality (detection and prevention) at a lower test cost.
Investing in good quality (detection and prevention) where it realises greater savings in bad quality

Improving quality across the SDLC

Industry data shows that typically testing can cost between 20 and 40% of the total cost of delivering a project, the benefits of reducing or eliminating waste are quite significant.
Some key areas that contribute to wasted effort and costs:

reasons for increased cost of quality

In an earlier post, I outlined our approach to reducing costs and waste by fully aligning the STLC and the SDLC so that test activities are carried out at every stage of the development lifecycle, rather than being left until the defined Testing Phase. The rationale for this is simple: If defects can be prevented or identified and resolved earlier in the SDLC then the cost of quality will be significantly reduced.

Some common areas we consider to achieve the greatest impact on the overall Cost of Quality include:

Development of a Quality Plan, which defines Quality Goals, is realistic about where defects come from, and selects appropriate detection and prevention methods
Implementing a sound and consistent Governance and Gating Process across the complete lifecycle
Establishing a Project Delivery Lifecycle that is consistent with the overall Programme of work
Introducing and then making on-going refinements to Risk Based Testing techniques in line with the Quality Plan. (I’ll talk more about our approach to Risk Based Testing in a future post.)

Our customers are at various stages in the spectrum in terms of their approach to and achievement of quality. Some organisations already have a Quality Plan in place and have taken a number of significant steps to improve their testing processes. We engage with those customers to continue to measure and review progress against the improvement roadmap and Quality Plan. Often, our Testing Consultants are able to bring their experience and learnings from other projects, programmes, customers and industries to identify additional opportunities for improvement.

In other cases, the customer may not have a Quality Plan yet, so we can work with them to create one. This helps ensure a clear bench mark for Quality exists and that all parties involved in delivering change – whether customer staff, Optimation people, or people from other vendor organisations – have a shared understanding of the Quality expectations.