Three tips for effective, efficient quality assurance

I hope by now I’ve convinced you of the benefits of quality assurance – although I appreciate that I may not have convinced you that QA is a fun task!

Either way, accepting that you need to do it is one thing; knowing how to do it effectively and efficiently is another. Here are my simple tips for doing just that.

  1. Give it a fresh look. I’m sure we’ve all written things, reviewed them thoroughly, and then noticed a mistake once it’s too late. In fact, I’d probably bet money on there being at least one error in at least one of these posts on QA. It’s all too easy to miss mistakes or imperfections in your own work, largely because you know it too well. The best solution to this is to get someone else to QA your work after you’ve reviewed it yourself. But if a fresh pair of eyes isn’t available, put the work aside (ideally for a day or two, but at least for a few hours) or transfer it into a new format. When you come back to it, you’ll be more likely to see the detail, rather than seeing what you know you wrote.
  2. Consider TVF in turn. My experience is that it’s not possible to review everything at once. You can’t pay full attention to the spelling and grammar if you’re also trying to review the visual details. Likewise, if you’re focusing on trying to break interactions and check functionality, you’ll struggle to pay attention to the flow of content and the sense of the narrative. So I think it’s really worth doing at least two separate QA reviews: one to look at the textual element and the overall sense, and another to look at the visuals and functionality. It might sound laborious, but doing two or three QAs right first time is preferable to doing multiple iterations because your client picks up on mistakes you missed first time around.
  3. Allow plenty of time. How long would you allow to QA a 60-minute e-learning course? There’s no right answer here, obviously, but my gut feeling is that around three hours would be right (if not a little longer). This allows enough time to review all three elements in detail, to flick backwards and forwards between screens as required to check consistency, and to log clear and specific details of all the bugs and issues found. This last point is vitally important, whether you or someone else will be making the changes – it’ll help speed up the turnaround of the next iteration without misinterpretation or error, and it also provides you with a detailed audit trail of changes requested.

My final two tips would be practise and spread the word! Next time you have a document to QA, make a conscious decision to set aside plenty of time to do it properly. Even better, ask someone else to set some time aside to QA it as well – and offer to do the same for them. By insisting on high standards and integrity in your own QA process, you’ll help develop a wider QA culture – and that can only be a good thing.

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One thought on “Three tips for effective, efficient quality assurance

  1. Kim George

    Hi Stephanie,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your three posts on QA as it’s something I’m a big fan of as well! I’ve always enjoyed reviewing written material and rewriting it if necessary so, for me, QA is never tedious. I’m always challenging myself not to miss things (it’s so easy to do), so I agree with you that just a once-over isn’t enough.

    I particularly like your recommendation to transfer a piece of work you’re reviewing into a new format. It makes it seem fresh and unfamiliar. As much as I hate wasting paper, I find printing out a piece of writing or a graphic helps – once it’s in my hands I see things I didn’t notice on screen! And then I always rip it up and use the blank side as notepaper…:)

    Reply

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