What is a Center of Excellence and Why Do You Need It?
A QA Center of Excellence provides your teams with a set of standard, yet smartly flexible, processes and templates for use across all of your IT projects. The processes and templates established by the Center of Excellence can be used for both in-house custom-developed applications as well as vendor-owned COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) systems. Most companies utilize a nice mixture of both.
While most companies already have a software development methodology utilizing established processes and templates, many have not taken a “peek under the hood” since the processes were initially implemented. When we factor in individually customized processes and templates created by your teams over the years, staff turnover, as well as the addition of new team members, we discover many opportunities for improvement.
From an IT perspective, these improvements could help decrease scope creep, improve on-time delivery, and decrease the number and severity of defects found in Production.
From a business standpoint, these improvements could help you to identify business-critical data workflows early in the development process, ensure the correct data is being captured and stored correctly for your BI (business intelligence) and reporting needs, and ultimately, help your end-users be happier users.
How IQ Can Help
IQ can help you create a QA Center of Excellence (CoE). We will help you objectively figure out if what you currently have in place works best for your IT Division. Because all methodologies, processes, and templates are not appropriate for every organization, we’ll begin with a QA Assessment of your existing processes and compare that to industry best practices as identified by CMMI, ITIL, ISO, and IEEE.
If your organization is an Agile shop, for example, then a fully formed Requirements Document should not be part of your QA suite of artifacts (yet user stories should be). At IQ, we can help regardless of your life cycle model, whether it’s waterfall, incremental or Agile to name a few.
With the assessment complete, IQ will provide you with a QA Strategy & Roadmap customized for your organization. This is where IQ’s “Smart Flexibility” process comes into play. We recognize change doesn’t happen overnight and some changes are easier to implement than others. We work with you to recommend prioritizing improvements based on time, budget, and needs.
Your organization can opt to implement the QA Strategy yourself, or IQ can help you to make these transitions effectively.
The Details – The IQ Assessment
A thorough assessment requires collaboration with your organization. The more people pitch in—from the senior vice presidents, to the developers, to the analysts—the better chance we have at leaving no stone unturned. From experience, we know that if you send us to your most organized leader, we’ll glean a lot from your organization. But what we really need in order to help you is for you also to provide us access to those team members who struggle with organization and systems, the one who always seems to fly by the seat of his/her pants and runs things “wild west style” (you know who we’re talking about). We even want to talk to the most curmudgeonly of them all. Why? Because we need to understand all of your team members and the way they work in order to really customize something that will work for your entire organization.
Here are the areas we focus on:
- Requirements & Change Management
- Configuration Management & Change Control Procedures
- Environment Management
- COTS Management & Vendor Delivery
- Offshore Team Management
- Development Management
- Test Management
- Defect Management
- Project Management
After we dig in, we’ll provide a Current State Assessment of your organization. We typically find that within organizations or departments, the managers operate in a variety of operational styles. Quite often we discover processes being utilized by part of one department and ignored by the rest. We’ll uncover these nuances and identify what your team should be using going forward.
The Details – The IQ Strategy & Roadmap
Once IQ has finalized the Assessment of your organization, we’ll customize a “Smart Flexibility” strategy specifically for you. Having identified major and minor goals, we’ll suggest a priority in which these should be attained and identify exactly “how” to attain these goals by defining the actions and tasks that need to take place. We will outline identified dependencies, challenges, opportunities, risks, and mitigations. This is your QA Strategy.
Next, we’ll build out a tangible Roadmap to implement the Strategy. This includes milestone dates and checkpoints. The Roadmap will contain improvements in all areas reviewed during the Assessment, where needed, including recommended process changes, new processes, changed or new templates, and suggested staff (onshore or offshore, depending on the culture of your organization). We’ll even take into account what’s currently on your plate so that we add to—rather than subtract from—your current project timelines. Keeping in line with your IT budget, we can help plan the best times to implement QA goals to coincide with your major milestones.
The Details – The IQ Implementation
At this point, IQ has provided you with all of the tools for a do-it-yourself Center of Excellence implementation. You can use the IQ Strategy & Roadmap to build out your QA Center of Excellence yourself using your internal staff or another vendor. Or, you can enlist IQ to help pave the way in your company. We can help you implement the entire Roadmap or just until a specific milestone is reached. The choice is yours.
With this CoE firmly in place, you’ll have a standardized, repeatable, and accountable process.