The Perception of Quality
So you’ve done a masterful job in documenting your requirements, your project team has followed the requirements to a “t” and you’re now ready to have your customer start doing testing. You as a project manager need to ensure that what your customer views is as good of quality as what your project team feels they have delivered.
The Requirements Drift
It’s important to remember that from the time the requirements were defined and locked down, the business (your customer) may have evolved without your knowledge. That’s why it’s critical that all customer testing be referenced back in some fashion to the requirements that the customer agreed to. It’s good practice to regularly ensure requirements are still sound and if not, determine what the new gaps are and address them (your customer should happily sign a change order if you have properly documented and approved requirements that no longer fit the full needs of the business). If a customer begins testing and expects that the delivered solution has somehow evolved with their changing requirements it can lead to some heartache during acceptance testing which can make your life as a project manager much more challenging.
Before acceptance testing begins by the customer it is critical that someone from the project team with intimate knowledge of the system (usually the Business Analyst who understands the requirements and the customer) demonstrate to the customer how the delivered solution not only meets the requirements approved by the customer but also how the solution actually provides value to the business (ex. features that save admin time, reports that save massive marrying/massaging of data) to essentially “wow” the customer and generate some excitement for testing. It is often lost on project teams who see these systems day in and day out that the customer is seeing their new system for the first time when they get into acceptance testing – the solution should be no different than that shiny new vehicle you’re going to pick up from the car dealership. The more positive excitement that you can generate at the outset of testing, the more your customer is going to be willing to work with you and your project team in a collaborative way when (not if) issues are discovered during the testing phase.
Delivering a system that doesn’t meet basic functional needs will not only erode your customer’s confidence in you and your project team but it also makes it infinitely more difficult to prove working functionality that does meet requirements. Keeping the shine on your solution is an often overlooked task during testing but it is paramount to keep your customer excited about your solution. Not only does it make for a happier customer, but it also maintains the perception that this is a partnership in delivering value to your customer’s business.
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