Sep 032012

Are we done yet?  How much longer?  How many defects have you found?  Are any of the defects, showstoppers?

These are the words many a quality assurance professional have heard in their career.  QA is typically the process at the end of many software development lifecycles and the gating event for the products move to production.   Throughout a project, communication can be tricky, especially near the end of the project when tension naturally increases.

I have found that communicating daily with the stakeholders often is a great way to defuse this tension.  The quality assurance team produces a daily status.  This daily status is for the direct stakeholders as well as the upper management; therefore it must contain various levels of information.

The daily status report the team produces has the following elements:

  1. Executive summary – this summary has a high level of the accomplishments for the given project for the day.
  2. Roadblocks – this is to report any roadblocks which the quality assurance team may be facing.  These may include but not limited to, the environment being down, botched deployment,
  3. Project summary – this is a grid consisting of three columns and five rows.  The three columns are Status, Test Cases, and Test Steps.  The five rows are Complete, Not Started, In Progress, Out of Scope, and Total.  This information is calculated from the test case Excel spreadsheet.
  4. Build Status – this informs the reader to which build QA is currently testing against along with an ETA of when QA is expected to be complete.
  5. Defect Summary – this provides the reader with total number of defects identified and what the statuses of the defects are.  The list has Defects Identified, Defects Open, Defects Closed, and Defects Resolved.

The questions tend to dissipate when you provide this level of information on a daily basis.  Once the email template is established, this process is about 10-15 minutes long with most of the time coming in the executive summary and roadblocks.  The remaining information is merely gleaning statistics from the metrics you are already gathering.  When you are working on multiple projects with multiple stakeholders, this is an invaluable way to keep everyone informed, no matter their management or stakeholder level.

I know there are more ways to communicate with the customer and is dependent upon culture and customs.  This is a method I have used to communicate to multiple clients and it has seemed to work.  I hope this method helpful and your communication with the stakeholders more clear.  And with that, I am done yet.