The world is run by metrics. Businesses require effective benchmarks to assess success, identify areas for improvement, and evaluate which projects have had the most impact. Metrics are also important for tracking achievement within particular teams.

However, all too often, the indicators that teams consider vital do not correspond to the whole business. We have a tendency to look at our daily work through the lens that is currently in front of us.

This means that while one team may consider high activity to be a success, the impact of that activity on the business’s overall goals is unlikely to be recognized. “Increased activity does not build a firm. Selling narrative points does not create money “Melanie Ziegler, founder of the VPE Forum, a peer network for development executives, echoed this sentiment. “Outcomes are how you grow a business.”

This is no different in QA. It’s critical to consider how you choose metrics to measure in QA testing and performance engineering. It is, in fact, a critical component in changing how the business views the QA function and developing a narrative that communicates the true importance of quality.

The quality journey at HelloFresh

I met with Ilya Sakharov, former director of quality assurance at HelloFresh, for my book Leading Quality: How Great Leaders Deliver High-Quality Software and Accelerate Growth, and he told me a story that may relate.

When Sakharov initially started at the company, he noticed a gap between the quality team and the rest of the organization. The quality team was working on the most essential test strategies, but they didn’t correlate with the company’s main metric: the number of recipe-box subscribers.

Recognizing that this chasm was producing misalignment between the QA function and the rest of the company, Sakharov began articulating the significance of this critical measure.

The quality team began to speak in terms of the impact that poor quality could have on the number of subscribers as a result of this reinvigorated focus. This indicator was at the forefront of the company’s risk-based research when deciding where to test.

IT’s primary testing focus shifted to areas that would have the most influence on this critical measure. Knowing how it fits into larger corporate goals and helped to HelloFresh’s overall success fueled the QA team’s enthusiasm.

Cross-functional department interactions have improved as a result of the new alignment. Furthermore, the number of critical defects that made it to production was reduced.

Lessons from HelloFresh 

The relationship between measurements and quality is demonstrated in this example.

Your QA team may assume that the most important measure is the number of bugs fixed and that a large number of fixes is the aim. However, that is an activity-driven statistic, not an outcome-driven metric. In fact, you could call it a vanity metric—one that sounds impressive but has little meaning in the wider picture.

Quantifiable outcomes are required by businesses. They need to see quality improvement as a result of this, as well as an increase in ROI. They need to witness a decrease in customer attrition and an increase in downloads. Even if your activity is at an all-time high, the rest of the company will not notice until you provide tangible results.

Which metrics will have the biggest impact on your company?

Decide on your metric first. If you’re not as fortunate as Hello Fresh and have your business’s main metric set out for you, you’ll need to define it.

If your business is in gaming or entertainment, like Fortnite or Netflix, your measure will almost certainly be the number of time consumers spend on the platform or app. These are measures that are dependent on how much people pay attention to them. Transaction-based metrics will rule if you’re an e-commerce or subscription platform. It’s all about decreasing buying friction and delivering a pleasant consumer experience.

If you’re running a B2B platform, productivity metrics will be your main emphasis. By concentrating on user activity, you can determine whether or not your clients are getting the most out of your platform and, as a result, whether or not they are likely to continue with it.

This one-size-fits-all statistic is your growth indicator. Identifying this essential measure, regardless of the industry, is the first step in understanding how QA can help move the needle. You can find out through having cross-departmental interactions and in-depth discussions with your team, or simply by asking senior leadership.

How QA teams can calculate their value

It’s all about changing how you approach your work when it comes to communicating value. You can evaluate your present software testing process once your QA team members are all on the same page about the growth metric.

Consider why you run particular tests, priorities specific bug solutions, and employ certain testing approaches.

The number of flights booked, for example, is Wizz Air’s growth statistic. When it comes to issuing repairs, Wizz Air’s QA staff prioritizes them based on how they affect a customer’s ability to book flights. If there is a critical bug during checkout, it jumps to the top of the priority list.

A game company focused on hours spent playing would prioritize correcting a defect that caused play to cease after an hour, and a messaging app would prioritize fixing an app that affected the number of messages received. You may ensure that your QA team’s hard work has an impact on the bottom line by refocusing their efforts.

Communicate the true value of quality

The QA team understands that quality assurance is critical to a company’s success. The difficult aspect is expressing that value. The correct metrics should be incorporated into your testing approach, and they should be a fundamental component of everything you do.

You can deliver a great product and a well-oiled software development function by realigning your team’s focus on growth. Great cross-functional interactions result in fantastic goods and a reinvigorated sense of mission.

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