QA KPI Metrics for the Executive Team

Deliver on the strategic quality objectives that matter most to the executive team.

As a quality assurance professional, you probably strive for perfection. You likely take pride in your work and want your company to have the best products on the market. To achieve that, you and your team must track and monitor an array of metrics to help optimize your operations and set you up for success.

For example, you may be keeping track of the number of tests that you run, whether or not you have 100 percent requirements coverage, what percentage of those tests are automated vs. manual or how many you passed or failed. And, of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s no shortage of things to track, measure and report on.

And while all of these metrics are important to you and to running your team as efficiently and effectively as possible, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re things your C-Suite cares about. Although quality assurance is essential to the success of any product, it’s one of those things that other people only pay attention to when there’s a problem. Like it or not, if the tremendous value that you provide by doing your job well is taken for granted, chances are that the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you’re so diligently tracking will be too.

Practically speaking, that means that when it comes to communicating with the C-Suite, you’re not going to get very far if you go too deep into the weeds. If you want to get their attention and demonstrate your team’s value, you instead need to focus in on the big-picture metrics that they’re most interested in. In this article, we’ll take a look at what those metrics are, and at some basic steps that you can take to ensure that you’re setting yourself up to get the best results for each.

The 3 Things Your C-Suite Probably Cares About Most

When you talk to your C-Suite about quality assurance, chances are that there will be three main things that will get their attention. They are:

1. Speed to market

First and foremost, executives want to know how quickly they can bring new features to market. After all, the faster new features are delivered, the faster your company can respond to changing customer expectations and market opportunities.

Testing can obviously increase the amount of time that elapses between when new code is written and delivered. Anything that you and your team can do to expedite the process and shorten testing time is going to be seen positively. That being the case, reporting on how long testing takes on average vs. industry best practice, and ideally how that average is going down over time, will resonate with leaders.

If you find that testing is a bottleneck that’s delaying your company’s ability to deliver new code, it’s something that you need to address. To do so, try to automate as much of your testing as possible to ensure quicker delivery. And if you’re not already doing so, you should also embrace DevOps so that your operations are more agile, collaborative and transparent, which will ultimately increase your velocity.

2. The number of bugs in production

While you may be intently focused on striving for perfection, the fact is that there will always be bugs. It’s just the reality. And the bigger the product, the more scenarios there are to test, which means the more bugs that are likely to slip through.

But not all bugs are equally important in the eyes of your executives. While they too want your products to have as few problems as possible, they’re really only interested in the most severe bugs that affect customer experience. They’re going to want to know what they are, who caught them and why they were missed in the first place.

That’s important to keep in mind because when you’re reporting on the number of bugs in production, you don’t want to bog the C-Suite down with lower-level issues — think formatting errors, for example — that just aren’t as critical. For that reason, it’s important to track the relative severity of bugs and to focus your attention on the most serious among them that are most likely to lead to attrition. Focusing on those issue, rather than striving for a bug-free release, is a better strategy for everyone.

3. The amount of money being spent on testing

It should come to no surprise to anyone that the C-Suite always has its sights on the bottom line, which includes how much money your company is spending on testing. To understand the value of the return they are getting on their investment, executives are going to want to know how many bugs were found in production versus how many tests were executed for every release. Although they understand the importance of testing and can accept that it comes at a cost, they want to make sure that the company isn’t wasting any money.

They key here is to ensure that your testing efforts are as efficient as possible. To maximize your efficiency, you may need to experiment with pulling different levers. For example, you might need more automation or you might need to do less overall so that you can focus more time on exploratory testing. You’ll also want to do some analysis about where bugs are being found in production so that you can try to focus your attention on the most brittle areas.

By regularly reporting on these metrics, you’ll be able to keep your executives informed about the aspects of quality assurance that they care about most. That will save everyone time and help reinforce the tremendous value that testing provides.

Act Like a Tester, Communicate Like an Executive

Testing is an essential part of deploying new software and features, and one that your business cannot succeed without. To be successful at it, you need to track a variety of KPIs. Yet to help executives see the real value of what you’re doing, you need to speak their language. That means talking to them in terms of the metrics that they’re most interested in: speed to market, the number of bugs in production and cost.

If you can report this information back to them, ideally within the context of several releases, you’ll be able to get through to the C-Suite and demonstrate the impact that you’re having. Having the right reporting engine will go a long way toward making that a fast and efficient process.

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