Metrics drive the modern software development workplace. That’s as equally true for coders as it is for product managers. And while developers may be primarily judged on their ability to check off items on their to-do lists, those on the product management administrative side of things are often viewed through a business lens.
And it’s here where QA testing can play a vital role.
Although QA focuses on software quality and overall usability, it inevitably produces positive end results for the business, helping create products that satisfy end-users. For product managers, knowing how to leverage the power of testing can go a long way to ensuring they meet their targets.
Product managers are often judged on their ability to attract and capture new users. One major KPI employed is conversion rate: either the ability to attract a new sign-up, or to convince a free user to upgrade to a paid plan.
Although this is fundamentally business-centered, quality assurance testing still plays a key role, by helping foster the development of a polished product. And they can also help identify and resolve the problems in the acquisition pipeline that lead to churn and abandoned carts. Usability testing centered around the first time user can help identify any friction points for new users.
Houston, we have a problem
In recent years, thanks to the growth of DevOps methodologies, testing has become overwhelmingly automated. Tasks that were once performed manually, like running unit and integration tests, are now compartmentalized as part of a deployment workflow.
This presents an opportunity to gather data. In some cases, product managers are graded on the number of tests that pass or fail. And while this can be indicative of personnel shortcomings, it can also suggest a cognitive disconnect between developers and the specifications they are working from.
This is one part of the equation where QA testing can negatively harm KPIs. The more tests that exist, the more tests that can be failed. But we’d argue that’s the wrong way of looking at things. Instead, it should suggest that an employee requires more support or training, or the product requirements require further clarification.
As mentioned, QA testing can help identify problems that would otherwise prompt users to jump ship to a rival product. Customer retention — sometimes called “churn” or “stickiness” — is one of the most fundamental KPIs applied to product managers.
But on a more granular level, the same level of analysis can be applied to individual features.
Feature adoption is almost always indicative of overall engagement. If your team has spent the past month working on a few updates and customers are steering clear, chances are good there’s a fundamental problem with your app.
Quality assurance testing is crucial here. By eliminating usability and technical factors, product managers can better diagnose the reason why a feature is failing to take off.
Sometimes, there are causes that fall outside the typical QA purview. The feature could, for example, be extremely niche and only solve a problem faced by a handful of users. By eliminating the usual suspects, PMs are better positioned to understand their users, and ultimately guide the development of their product
Click it or ticket
One metric frequently employed to gauge the quality of a product is the number of support tickets filed by users. A higher number of support requests are almost always indicative of a product that’s rife with problems: either technical or in terms of usability.
And this has dramatic business consequences. Unless there are absolutely no other alternatives or migrating to another product is a hassle, customers won’t hesitate to ditch a product that doesn’t work properly. And customer churn is another common KPI foisted upon PMs.
Further down the line, glitchy software inevitably places a burden on technical support staff, forcing them to contend with an ever-growing number of support requests. And if the problem proves too difficult for them to resolve, they may be forced to escalate the ticket, entrenching the customer’s dissatisfaction, and harming another crucial PM KPI.
Properly employed, QA testing can stop those tickets from ever being issued by catching defects well before the faulty code is deployed. Unit and integration testing can ensure the technical side of things remains robust, while usability and exploratory testing can ensure the user-facing aspect of a product works smoothly. If users are reporting problems, the QA team can reproduce those problems and give the developers actionable bug reports to facilitate fixes.
It’s all about the users
Product managers are ultimately judged on the merits of their work. KPIs merely quantify whether something meets standards, or desperately needs sprucing up. QA testing is an inevitable part of this process, either by highlighting flaws or stopping them from being deployed in the first place. PMs shouldn’t fear it — they should embrace it.
If you’re ready to deliver mobile app experiences that users will love, contact Testlio for a free demo.