Monday, August 31, 2009

Preparing Business Case

Developing a new product or functionality involves ensuring the money is spent wisely and that there is proper ROI (Returns on the investment). A business case is a detailed report used by the stakeholder/sponsor to justify the need of the project. The report should provide all the relevant information in an easy to understand format. In some companies business case is a must to receive funding and go-ahead for the project.
A business case is used to support a particular course of action when there may be several different options; the most important aspect of the business case is the cost-benefit analysis.
Identify your audience early in the process; you will have to address each audience's need, concern, expectation and level of understanding in the document.
Cost Benefit Analysis should be broken down into two categories, 'Direct Costs' and 'Indirect Costs', list all the topics under each category. With my experience sponsor loves valuing in dollars, try to work out each of the cost and benefits in dollars.
Although there is no official format or one that works for everyone, I can suggest you to structure the document in the following section
  • Background
  • Effect/Risk of the problem
  • Costs and Benefits
  • Proposal
  • Impact
  • Conclusion/Recommendation
Other factors which should be considered in the business case are
  • Financial (expense and revenue)
  • Corporate commitment
  • Quality
  • Customer pressure/satisfaction
  • Industry pressure
  • Legal compliance
Finally these are some of the questions which should be answered in the business case document
  • Why are we doing this project?
  • What is the problem this project is trying to address?
  • Are there any workarounds or alternates?
  • What are business benefits?
  • How are we going to solve the problem?
  • How much it is going to cost and how long will it take?
  • If we do this project, what are the risks?
  • If we don’t do this project, what are the risks?
  • If we need to measure success how will be measure it?
Try to answer the questions above in the document to create a good business case proposal. In the end of the document make sure you summarise the problem, costs and benefits of the proposed solution, the document should be structured to highlight that the benefits outweighs cost.
See you next time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crash Party

I know what springs to mind when you hear 'Crash Party', but I am not talking about gate crashing or going to a party you haven't been invited. I am talking about Crash party before the release of the software, so let me start by explaining what is a crash party and why there is a need for one?

Testing plays a crucial role in the successful delivery of today’s complex, heterogeneous, business-critical software systems, as software get more and more complicated, there is a need to improve quality which poses challenge to the QA team, crash party is yet another way to improve quality.

Crash party is another form of collaborative group testing when a group of people (Developers, BA, QA, Support) gets together for a limited amount of time and test the functionality of the product with the intention to find as many defects as possible, it works on a very simple principle that when multiple people are using the system in a non predictable way, they are bound to find workflows (along with defects) which hasn't been thought, documented and/or tested before. Some Crash party may use a predefined script (e.g. UAT ) for the testing. Crash party can also be used for load and stress testing.

Crash party is an excellent way to bring team members up to speed, get them familiar with the area they haven’t work before, and the most important thing is to make them feel a part of the entire product.

Each team member participating in the crash party may be given an area of the product to test. Give cards or paper to each team member to record the defects and the steps to reproduce it, I would highly recommend you to not introduce any electronic bug recording system during this process, the reason being it is easier to write it on a piece of paper and expand that later once the crash party is over.

One of key things to ensure in a crash party is to make sure that the test cases and/or areas are evenly distributed among the team members and to avoid repeated test steps. Also make sure you are not executing any steps which have already been tested by automated tools and regression testing. Always tell the team member the goal is to find what we haven’t found before, 'we don't know what we don't know'.

After the Crash Party is completed, compile a list of defects found during the process, there may be some defects reported due to incorrect data entry or workflow, make sure you discuss that with the BA to ensure the defect is still relevant. The next and the most important step is to prioritise the defects to be fixed before the release; the ones which can’t be fixed in the current release will be flagged for the next release.

Finally software testing is an art, testing practices have not changed since last few years, but the tools and techniques have, complete testing is infeasible, so try to implement quality at every stage of development.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Agile Vs Waterfall

I am pretty sure this topic has been discussed many times and is there a clear winner ... I guess not.
I have been working with waterfall methods all my life and more recently with agile, if I have to summarise they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing analysis in a water fall method, partly because you were given the opportunity to think and discuss solution upfront, so more time was spend doing the requirements gathering this works really well where project has limited resource (time or money) and clear objective.

On the other hand the disadvantage with the waterfall method (more so in the current era) is that it is not as versatile as agile. Business are growing (and some of them are shrinking), as day goes by there are new competition in the market, new legislations and other factors which affect the company and needs to be responded immediately, in this type of environment agile allows quick and timely changes.
Agile also allows team to delivery solution to the QA team and possible to the customer quicker than the waterfall method.