by Thomas Wailgum

Why You Need to Break Down the Wall Between Business Analyst and QA Teams

Sep 29, 2010
EnterpriseEnterprise ApplicationsERP Systems

The relationship between your business analysts and quality assurance folks is key to software development success. Here is Forrester Research's advice on making the partnership work.

For today’s software development teams, an overriding sense of “failure is not an option” permeates any new project: Timelines and budgets are tighter than ever before; business stakeholders demand more input on “agile” practices (even if they haven’t a clue what that actually entails); and the complexity and risks of even “low-hanging fruit” projects have increased.

Yet failure remains a painful reality for too many software-development quests.

Project survey data from The Standish Group (reporting only 32 percent of projects succeeding) and Ambysoft/Dr. Dobb’s (reporting roughly a two-thirds success rate) offer little consolation.

A recent report from Forrester Research posits that CIOs need to ensure that their business analysts and quality assurance organizations are not only on the same page, but also working from the same playbook. (For more on business analysts, see Role Changes Require New BA Skill Sets and 6 Secrets of Top-Notch Business Analysts.)

“If there is a wall between your BA and QA organizations,” write Forrester analysts Mary Gerush and Margo Visitacion, “it’s time to unite them in the pursuit of improved software quality.”

The analysts offer these three steps (see graphic below):

Forrester Research Align BAs and QA Pros Figure

Gerush and Visitacion add that CIOs may have to redefine what the term “quality” actually means to the company. “Make it your mission to expand the definition of quality to be more holistic and encompass quality of both product and process,” they write in the report.

[ After a massive tech failure, here’s what CIOs and IT can expect ]

In addition, CIOs need to foster a team- and goal-oriented environment. “It takes the effort of everyone on the project team to deliver high-quality software: software that delivers high end user adoption rates, strong customer satisfaction levels, and real business value,” Gerush and Visitacion write. “If your project team members are focused only on their individual goals and deliverables, they aren’t focused on those crucial measures of organizational success.”

“Give them something new to strive for,” the analysts add. “Create a team quality goal that outweighs their individual goals to make the team responsible for quality—as a team.”

Thomas Wailgum covers Enterprise Software, Data Management and Personal Productivity Apps for Follow him on Twitter @twailgum. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. E-mail Thomas at