Graphic design agencies are busy companies and there is generally a lot going on in terms of pitching for and winning work, carrying out that work, effectively account managing and directing demanding clients plus remembering to bill for everything you do.
When completing web projects, it is necessary to fully test website developments before launch but when clients need to launch by a set deadline and there are other projects vying for resources plus your project manager is already at capacity then testing often has to be done quickly, and sometimes that means that the testing is rushed.
What often happens when testing is rushed is that the quality of the website suffers. This then runs the risk of starting a series of events that can escalate starting with the new website perhaps not gaining the sales or enquiries that it was expected to due to sub-standard quality, potentially gaining bad comments on social networking sites, damaging your client’s reputation and ultimately damaging your reputation and the working relationship with your client.
In extreme cases, if there is a serious fault with the website that prevents then you may have a very unhappy client on your hands who is looking for more than the application of a fix to the problem.
So how do you solve this problem so that you are not rushing testing and launching websites that are of the best quality possible?
Here are a range of solutions:
Don’t overload your project manager
This might seem like an obvious one but if your project manager is firefighting and trying to manage multiple projects, keep them all moving forward on time, deal with issues, keep specs up to date, liaise with clients, etc. then you can see how testing can be rushed for the project that is launching that week.
Reducing a project manager’s workload in a short space of time can be quite difficult because moving the responsibility of a project from one person to someone else can mean that the understanding of what that project involves is lost or muddied in some way. So the best method tends to be waiting until 1 project is finished and then not awarding the next project to that project manager, giving them 1 less project to manage.
Even with a reduced workload, several projects can become more active for a project manager at the same time and so there are still intense periods where specs need writing, developers need briefing, projects need testing and customers need updating all at the same time.
Move the deadline back
If you are really struggling to get the testing and bug fixing done then you always have the option of moving the deadline back. The client may not be happy about it but moving the deadline is recommended rather than launching a substandard website. If the client digs their heels in and won’t budge then the testing frequently gets rushed, or there are late nights that can result in more mistakes. The risk is a shoddy website.
Moving the deadline can ease the project manager’s workload but can also just move the bottleneck into next week. There is still the same amount of testing to do and the same number of conflicting projects to manage. Moving deadlines can affect your scheduling of other projects, as they will be impacted and so can perhaps not be started when this project has not yet been launched.
Reduce the scope of the project
A classic project management ploy when running out of time to develop a website is to reduce the amount of work to do. If you could convince the client to chop off a section or piece of functionality and launch it after the main site then this can save a great deal of time in the associated testing and bug fixing of that section.
This solution only works if there is a decent chunk of functionality that can be realistically separated or hidden from the rest of the website and you have the support of your client.
As with moving the deadline for the project back, this solution just moves the bottleneck further on, as it will still need to be tested and made ready for launch at some point in the future. If you have to do this regularly then it can really affect your scheduling and billing, as other projects are not getting started or underway because you are still working on finishing existing projects.
Outsource the testing
One clear method of reducing your project manager’s workload, not having to move the project deadline back or remove a section before launch is to outsource the testing, or part of the testing to an external company or individual.
By outsourcing the testing of the whole website you can immediately save hours of your project manager’s time so that he or she can get on with other project management tasks. This gives you the advantage of being able to process more project work and bill a greater amount, i.e. more than paying for the cost of the outsourced testing.
There are even more benefits gained from outsourcing besides freeing up your project manager, enabling the project to launch on time, process a greater amount of project work with the same internal resources and bill more (if those weren’t enough), have a look at the following.
Outsourced Testing Benefits
- Someone external to the project or client can often pick up on issues missed because even proficient project managers and agency staff members can be too close to the web project and become a bit blind to certain problems.
- An experienced website tester may be able to complete testing more quickly.
- An outsourced website tester can provide a testing plan and checklist of what has been tested for the agency to confirm with the client that site has been tested, which browsers, which resolutions, etc. in addition to the prioritised list of bugs.
- Provide a second level of testing available to pick up on issues after the project manager has completed a first wave of testing.
- Provide suggestions for future improvements, which the agency can use to sell into the client at a later date.
- Carry out post launch and ongoing checks, tests, or site monitoring – providing an additional service that agency can charge onto the client.
Of course, in order to realise the above benefits, you need to be able to depend on the website tester you are outsourcing to and be able to call on them to complete the testing in a thorough and timely manner before feeding back with the prioritised issues.
We like to think that you do gain all of the above benefits when outsourcing some or all of your website testing to WebDepend. If you would like to discuss your website testing requirements then please do contact us.