Quality Assurance at last! Meet Nel - our newest addition

On Thursday Sept, 2022, Acorn Interactive Inc. had Nel Pontejos come in to the office and meet the team. As a group of lovable misfits, we have always needed a more dedicated and formalized Quality Assurance (QA) process. This is not to say we don't recognize the necessity, nor invoke the practice. It is to say that QA is a full time job. As well, we had some prerequisite steps to accomplish first. To date we have:

  1. Built a high octane development team
  2. Built a series of project management protocols to allow us to transition projects from design to development
  3. Created reporting and ticketing systems for deliverables
  4. Created a functional branching model in bitbucket
  5. Structured an environment for code reviews and testing design, and interaction fidelity

In short, we have been wearing multiple hats. Now it is time to grow up.

What is Quality Assurance (QA)?

From wikipedia:

Software quality assurance refers to monitoring the software engineering processes and methods used to ensure quality. Various methods or frameworks are employed for this, such as ensuring conformance to one or more standards, e.g. ISO 25010 (which supersede ISO/IEC 9126) or process models such as CMMI, or SPICE. In addition, enterprise quality management software is used to correct issues such as supply chain disaggregation and to ensure regulatory compliance; these are vital for medical device manufacturers.

The excerpt "...various methods or frameworks are employed for this, such as ensuring conformance to one or more standards..." is a major understatement, which constitutes most of the highly technical multi-stakeholder deliverables in software these days. This is why it's time to recruit subject matter expertise on QA.

Meet Nel

Mitch with Nel Pontejos, Quality Assurance Lead

Our first order of business was to review our company roadmap. Understanding the 5w's of what Acorn is doing (externally for clients and internally for operations) marks the start of Nel's onboarding process. Since we'e working on an internal project to facilitate and qualify inbound leads at the moment, he needs to know a few details.

  1. Where are we at on the project?
  2. Where will we go with the project?

He quickly identified the risks associated with technical debt as we outlined the next frontiers for our business. To give a sample, these include:

Setting up detailed pages for our core services offerings

Screenshot of Acorn's design masthead for our upcoming services pages

Social marketing is a great way to share our core service offerings and channel leads into our business so that we know exactly what the customer wants. As we provide several services, we need to explain to our customers exactly how we solve certain problems. These services pages improve our web experience by detailing it all out.

To start, we explain that our objectives are to create:

  1. A routing pattern that nests contents from a "services" collection in our database and renders them on specific urls
  2. Responsive design patterns that handle content across a variety of device sizes
  3. Google Tag Management protocols that provide us with meaningful visitor data
  4. A series of editable content fields so that we can constantly edit and rejig the contents
  5. A form system for lead generation that captures inbound leads with the option to set up a service-specific meeting

This leads to our next point of conversation:

Capturing leads on a per-service basis

Screenshot of preliminary form UI

Not only do we have to do this for the Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) capabilities on these new application routes, we also need to create a system to integrate the form data in a meaningful way to our sales and marketing team.

Our approach is to hook in the scheduling component with a third party service using a react Calendly module, and we'll store our leads in our CRM system after the form is submitted. In summary:

  1. Render and show the optional calendar module
  2. Store name, email, and time based scheduling metadata in our "leads" collection and/or CRM
  3. Notify a sales team member to follow through on the lead using email, Slack, SMS, or any combination of all three

When we compare both deliverables and all of the moving parts...

...it can be overwhelming to keep track of. This is where QA teams come in. We take a well established project plan and start with information architecture. From there we transition into design, development, and fulfillment. Without QA as an integral part of each process, we can lose track of the intricacies and, in doing so, increase the complexity of a given project.

Kornies unite - it's time to build out a functional series of QA protocols!

Team members met up to discuss these next steps. By starting small on the upcoming services page, we can then build out a strategy for setting up QA, and Test Driven Development (TDD) on our Jobs page, and later the Acorn Application at large.

By generating accurate and detailed performance analytics for these operations for our own outfit, we can continue to provide detailed estimations for client initiatives moving forward.

Welcome to the team, Nel!