~ by Randy Wagner
Why an Audit is Like a Good Rainy Day
Not enough people in this world value a good rainy day. Whether it’s a sprinkle, a deluge, or a steady downpour, each can have a silver lining. Audit should be like that. Few people look forward to a process audit, but it can be as refreshing and beneficial as the rain when you are prepared.
Audits typically look for two things: Deviations from stated process and opportunities for improvement.
A Good Audit Explores Five Key Areas
If you build and execute the process well, you rarely see problems in an audit. In fact, the deliverables that a good Quality Assurance process provides are exactly what a good audit looks for. Such as the following five areas:
- Roles & Responsibilities
Have roles and accountabilities been designed for clarity and transparency?
- Test Cases
Are test cases and results clearly traceable to requirements and acceptance criteria?
Is the documentation organized well and readily accessible?
- Entry & Exit Criteria
Are the entry and exit criteria for each phase well-documented and executed?
- Resource Contingency Structure
Is there a solid structure for onboarding staff and cross-training to avoid problems associated with unexpected resource changes?
Organizations that succeed and endure inevitably do the basics well. They provide consistently reliable products.
The Benefits of a Good Audit
Audits Encourage Us to Ask “Why” and Promote Process Improvement
Audits challenge us to avoid deviating from good processes and even question why we do them in the first place. For example:
- Are we testing the things that are straightforward to test but not used very often by the business users, or worse, not testing the way users operate in the system?
- Is the documentation from testing useful for Regression or troubleshooting Production problems?
Our jobs exist solely because systems must evolve or die. Our processes cannot remain stagnant either. Use the questions of audit like raindrops to jumpstart growth.
The Transition from Dev to QA Can be Improved with Input from QA
Additionally, QA is always at the tail end and subject to the results of process failure in other functional areas when time gets tight. Rarely does QA hold the power in a technical organization. That’s why audit is our best friend. We need to use the leverage of audit to highlight the rocky transitions to QA and provide process improvement recommendations. A little revolution, now and then, is a healthy thing.
Audits Can Prepare Us for the Unexpected
Above all else, preparing for a downpour under dark clouds or, worse, in the middle of the storm is a recipe for disaster. Trying to get organized in the middle of an audit always shows and somehow coincides with unexpected demands on an overtaxed QA staff. Audit yourself and your team constantly. As the old saying goes “repair your roof on a sunny day.”
A Nice Audit Rain is a Good Thing
Sometimes the rain comes in a storm that clears away dead branches and opens new vistas. Other times, it is a gentle refresher that encourages good growth. When you start with a good QA process, an audit is like sitting on a wide, dry porch while the rain falls elsewhere in the organization. The world may be a little different in the morning, but probably to your benefit.
Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies. He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, configuration management, and automation.