What to Expect: QA Process
This post is one in a series about fjorge’s proven development processes, including Discovery Process, Implementation Process, QA Process, and Launch Process. Quality Assurance (QA) is the most time-sensitive of fjorge’s development processes.
It’s like proofreading a book!
As with any masterpiece, it’s impossible to properly proofread your own work. For this reason our projects go through three rounds of review: Internal QA, Agency QA, and End Client QA. By the time we’re ready to publish, all key stakeholders and decision makers have experienced and signed off on the project.
To keep the project moving smoothly, we use Single Batch QA. Let’s go back to the proofreading analogy. You wouldn’t sit next to your proofreader and re-write your document while they mark it up in red ink, right? Instead, you let them sit in solitude, read every word, circle mistakes, provide suggestions for improvements, and when finished, return your paper covered in red. Only then do you filter through the feedback: what needs to be fixed, what needs clarification, and what suggestions might change the story too much.
It’s the same with digital projects.
For this reason, each round has a QA Feedback Deadline and fjorge Fixes Deadline. So long as everyone meets their deadlines, we’ll launch on time!
Here’s how each round works.
Round 1: Internal QA
This first round of QA is a peer review. (We’re done writing the book, but we want a friend to look it over before sending it to the editor.)
This means another developer at fjorge, usually someone who is unfamiliar with the project, compares the staging site to the project scope and design files. They note instances where development does not align with designs, and which features are not behaving as described. They not only test what “should” be working, they try to “break the site” (or as we like to say, “prove the site was already broken”). This is done by clicking through the site in unexpected ways to identify edge scenarios that could cause issues down the road. Again, they document everything.
All these documented notes are posted in Basecamp as a Single Batch of feedback. Depending on the size of the project, the QA Tester will have 1-2 business days to thoroughly review the project. At the end of their deadline, the original developer then pulls up the list and gets to work!
Any feedback determined to be out-of-scope is collected as possible Phase 2 development opportunities.
Round 2: Agency QA
This second round of QA is like editor review. (We’re confident in our work, but we need professional feedback before sending it to the publisher for approval.)
At fjorge, we primarily work with marketing agencies to bring their digital designs to life. Therefore, we call this round “Agency QA.” However, we sometimes work directly with an End Client. In those cases, there is generally a Designer (contracted by the End Client) who steps in for this round.
The Agency partner, or contracted Designer, knows the designs best and has the clearest vision for user experience, making their insights critical to polish our work.
There are three main goals during Agency QA:
- Pixel Perfection: Does development accurately match the designs provided for all breakpoints? We do our best to ensure pixel perfection, but we need help making sure no detail was overlooked.
- User Experience: Is the site functioning as expected, on all supported browsers and devices? Our Agency partners get to test drive the UX theories behind their designs, and make sure everything will meet their End Client’s expectations.
- Content Entry: Prior to starting our QA Process, our Agency partners enter sample content into the CMS to ensure the Admin View is set up properly. By the time we get to Agency QA, our partners should be able to enter the majority of content and confirm each template can be used to create more pages.
All feedback is submitted as a Single Batch in Basecamp. Depending On the size of the project, we generally allocate 3-5 business days for our Agency partners to thoroughly review the project with all key agency stakeholders and decision makers. Once fjorge is notified that all feedback has been entered, we get to work!
Note about Functional vs Design QA
Digital projects are living breathing creatures, making it impossible to anticipate all ways a user will interact with a site or application. There are always opportunities for improvement. For this reason, fjorge has separate budgets for Functional QA and Design QA.
Functional QA: Does the site function as outlined in the original scope (requirements and assumptions)? Does the site match the designs provided at kickoff for each breakpoint?
Design QA: Are there changes that need to be made to the original scope or designs, after development has started?
The Design QA budget can be used to address scope or design changes that must be addressed prior to launch. This budget is more strictly enforced than the Functional QA budget, and can be extended through a T&M agreement if more time is needed. Consider it a “contingency” budget for out-of-scope requests, to help reduce the need for change orders during the QA process. We’ll provide estimates for each Design QA task, so our Agency partners and their End Clients can prioritize how to use this budget. [Pro tip: anything that can wait until after launch, we highly recommend saving for Maintenance or Phase 2.]
As our developer implements fixes, they’ll move the tasks in Basecamp from “In Progress” to “Completed.” Once tasks are completed, our Agency partners can confirm on the staging site and “check off” each task.
Round 3: End Client QA
This final round of QA is like publisher review. (We believe our work is ready to be published, and it’s up to the publisher to sign off).
In agency-speak, the project is client ready! The End Client finally gets to interact with the staging site and share their final notes before approving for launch.
Agency partners are our client, and the End Client is their client. For this reason, our Agency partner hands off the project to the End Client and captures all feedback on their behalf. This allows our partner to filter the feedback, control their own project scope with their End Client, identify Phase 2 opportunities, and ensure fjorge works on only the fixes they approve. Depending on the size of the project, we usually allocate 3-5 business days for this round.
By now, most feedback includes minor bugs or Design QA requests. For this reason, we recommend saving as much of the Design QA budget for End Client QA. While fjorge gets to work on updates to the code, our Agency partner makes content related fixes (images, text, links) that can be addressed in the CMS. This helps us get to the finish line faster!
After our Agency partner “checks off” each completed task from End Client QA, and gives us Final Approval, QA is done and we’re ready to roll out our Launch Process!
If you’re an Agency looking for a development partner who will take pride and ownership in your digital project, you’ve come to the right place. At fjorge, we don’t just do the work, we regularly check-in throughout development to make sure our work meets your expectations, and guide you through the review process so “done means done for everyone.”