In my previous two posts, I went into some detail about some of the benefits of implementing a Testing Centre of Excellence (TCOE).
The benefits can be summarised as:
- Reduced costs
- Increased efficiency and consistency
- Maximised staff utilisation
- Increased test maturity and promote innovation across the organisation
- Increased adoption of best practices
- Test policy and test strategies aligned with the business needs
- Ensures availability of specialised testing services
- Improved use of management information
That’s all well and good but what are the steps needed should you want to go about implementing a testing centre of excellence?
Create Your Business Case
Firstly, identify and document your objectives and the benefits you hope to realise for the company. There will naturally be many gaps between your target future state and your current state and so you’ll need to invest in some projects to deliver your vision. Some examples might be implementing new testing tools (requiring some POCs, licenses and configuration), creating test environments, recruiting some specialist testers, setting up a training plan for existing testers. Once you’ve identified the projects, you can create a roadmap and estimate the costs. Frome here, you can create the business case.
Present Your Vision
Armed with the business case, you can present your vision, roadmap and cost benefit analysis to the leadership team and senior stakeholders. The objective is to identify and encourage your sponsors. The more important (often but not always the same thing as the more senior) and enthusiastic the sponsors, the greater the chance of success. There will be things such as processes and test policy that it might be necessary to mandate or at least strongly encourage, so having the support of influential stakeholders is going to be helpful. The leadership team will likely have their own objectives and ideas on how to shape the TCOE. It’s advisable to listen to these and try to align your collective objectives so that as many senior players as possible will be engaged and will back you.
Create the TCOE Team
You’ll need to identify the roles and skills that are needed to deliver the TCOE. The leadership and management team of the TCOE is likely to comprise your Test Managers and Senior Testers. They’ll probably be engaged on project and so you’ll need to carve out some time for them to work with you on planning and structuring the TCOE creation. Don’t assume they’re all bought in to the idea and be prepared to share your vison to get them enthused.
Define the Operating Model and Finance Model
You should, by now, have an idea of the services the TCOE is going to provide. Now you need to create a model that enables your customers to request, engage with and receive your services. Importantly, you’ll need to figure out how they’ll pay for them. Defining the Financial Model is possibly the most important thing you must get right. It is absolutely critical to success and I can’t stress this enough, you must fight for your own budget. If you don’t have budgetary control, you will never get traction. The TCOE needs to invest in R&D. It needs to invest in new tools. It needs to spin up projects to explore new tools, conduct POCs, pay for a bench of testers so you can be reactive to project needs. You must have independence from project budgets. Sure, recharge them for your services and recoup the costs perhaps, but without this independence, it will be hard, if not impossible, to create re-usable, shareable assets. Projects have their own objectives and priorities and will simply not spend time or money so that others can share or benefit from their expenditure. It is one of the draw backs of the free market I’m afraid.
That’s probably enough to be getting on with for now. In my next blog, I’ll add some more steps that will get into the nitty gritty of what the TCOE delivers.