3 Keys to Implementing QA in the Hospitality Sector with Edmund Tan
Speakers: Edmund Tan, Director of Quality Assurance and Support; Kalyan Rao Konda, President at Cigniti
Here is the Transcript
Preview: When you establish a good quality engineering practice you are building a practice that builds to two or three things that all customers want, which are accuracy, reliability, and security.
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Ralph: Welcome to another episode of QA talks, dedicated to emerging technology and innovation. I am your host Ralph Miranda. Today we are joined by Ed Tan, Director, of Quality Assurance and Support and by my co-host, Kalyan Rao Kanda, President of Cigniti & Head of the North America East Business Unit. Welcome Gentlemen, how are you?
Ed: We are doing well, Ralph.
Ralph: Good, Good. Kalyan, are you doing well today?
Kalyan: I am doing well Ralph. Thanks for asking.
Ralph: Excellent. Today we are going to be discussing, of course, quality assurance in technology, but in the hospitality sector. So, I am going to start with Ed. Ed with an increased focus on customer satisfaction, how does the technology landscape dovetail within the hospitality domain? What type of trends do you predict?
Ed: Ok, thanks for asking Ralph. Here are several different trends that are emerging, and our company is quite focused on actually. First one that I’ll talk about is really around on-board connectivity. Especially around the airline industry where you definitely see a lot more of airlines investing in on-board connectivity on planes which kind of open the world in terms of retail and commercial opportunities.
The other big item that we are currently focused on are the internet of things (IoT) – devices that sort of record and for us, it applies in allowing devices to interconnect with each other within the different units that we support, that transitions and transfers the data across folks who can make decisions based on that data.
The other big thing is big data of course, which is not really a new trend but kind of an ongoing trend. But really taking it to the next level from a predictive analysis stand point, allowing us to better plan and execute as to how do we service our customers.
Finally, we are combining virtual or augmented reality. It is definitely something we are looking at and it is very much a new world for us which allows our customers to either experience a specific service or offering before they approach it or relay some critical information through them to be able to meet the goal is allowing the customer in getting better and more satisfying experience utilizing our services.
Ralph: Kind of spring boarding that answer, Kalyan, Cigniti has worked with many clients in the hospitality sector. What are, in your opinion, three of the key best practices that you would like to highlight for implementing this technology across these enterprises?
Kalyan: So, Cigniti as a company that works for the hospitality domain and have a significant number of clients. When I say hospitality, I am broadly talking about cruise lines, airlines, and food and beverages, theme park, and any other mode of transportation.
One thing that we see especially in this industry domain is that a lot of these applications that are built are a lot more consumer–facing because the businesses are typically B2C. Of course, there is some B2B component as well, but they tend to be mainly B2C, so there is a lot more consumer orientation and hence there is a need for approaching especially from the quality assurance and testing standpoint from an end–user point of view.
Some of the best practices that we have followed when approaching the solving of the challenges related to quality management and testing are:
When we put together a test team and make sure there is enough domain expertise first within the team – people that not only understand technology, tools, and testing as a Subject Matter Expertise but also have huge experiences that have brought specific domain expertise related to that particular industry. That really helped us a lot.
One more thing is that since a lot of these applications are more like self-serving and also consumer oriented, so it is important for the teams to think like a user and act like a user when actually approaching the overall test strategy. So, having the mindset of an end-user when approaching the overall testing is critical as well. Since a lot of these applications that are being developed are developed in conjunction with business very closely, we see that there is a lot of benefits in testing it early and testing it often early in the lifecycle helps a lot, to avoid scope creep and things that are happening in terms of the end quality of the product later on.
Ralph: Okay, Ed let’s go back to you. You did a good job in explaining in your first answer regarding things that go on in the hospitality industry and some of the important factors that are related to it. I would imagine in that sector they need some serious predictive intelligence to run their business and that could be facilitated it in a number of ways by artificial intelligence–enabled tools, algorithmic decision–making mechanism, or even in-person services. So, how do you think the quality engineering efforts can enable things in bringing a more strategic and results–oriented approach to function seamlessly.
Ed: I think a lot of that answer kind of brings up the approach in the previous question around basically the quality engineering group providing that sort of an early & often feedback loop and basically puts itself into the mindset of the end-user. I think by establishing a good quality engineering practice that builds to two or three things that all customers want which is accuracy, reliability, and security, and we build that into the process when they go about testing for a product or application related to technology. Since these technologies are fairly new to the market and industry, obviously concerns around security, reliability, and accuracy of data are fundamental concerns.
So, the QA or QE team builds that foundation through the testing process and allows a lot of businesses to basically create the standards of quality, the service levels they predict. QE seeks to measure and repeat these tests, a lot of quantitative as well as the qualitative analysis of the process that is part of this technology.
Ralph: Ok, so how important is domain knowledge for the quality assurance professionals to be able to work effectively in the hospitality industry?
Ed: I think there are two ways to look at it. Having a good fundamental understanding of the hospitality industry can be seen as critical for success in that organization. The only caveat is that especially when you talk about new technologies, which you end up seeing in the market places is the folks who have that sort of domain knowledge and an old school mindset about how the business should operate and maybe don’t have that level of flexibility. I think sometimes having a new fresh set of eyes that have experience with the industry but then are willing to sort of open to new technologies might actually create a more conducive environment to success. I think fundamentally when you are trying to build a team that tests you want a combination of folks who have a good working knowledge of the domain network industry where you are working and can also have some fresh eyes to bring in a new perspective to things that you didn’t see before.
Ralph: Got you, that’s important. Kalyan, you guys have been involved in this as we talked about in our previous answers. Give me two or three tangible benefits that organizations in the hospitality sector have been able to see by partnering with you guys in the QA transformation journey.
Kalyan: I would say the companies that worked with us tend to see benefits –
One in terms of innovation that we could bring within the testing function. When I say innovation, we are talking about in the context of trying out new different methods, tools, and improving the overall productivity of the team. That’s the one constant feedback that we get from our clients is that there is definitely a new way of looking at things.
And one more thing that we tend to do is that obviously as a company that we focus on reducing the overall testing cost and that’s a given. We do that very well not only by our global delivery model but also by optimizing cost in terms of test tools, environment management, and then driving a lot of test automation in the context of the overall testing.
While we want to do some improvements at the posit level, we also tend to be a lot more holistic in our approach in terms of improving the overall testing function. Typically, the organization that we work with will end up having a highly mature testing function in one year and eighteen months of working with us. Those are some of the tangible benefits that I can think of.
Ralph: Ok, alright, excellent. Ed, I mentioned QA transformation journey and obviously you have been heavily involved in that. So, talk to us a little bit maybe about some of the challenges that the hospitality sector face during that transformation. How they address them and what are some of the results post transformation?
Ed: Ok. In terms of the state of things prior to the transformation process I think a lot of the challenges we have as an organization were that basically as a company that had built up through acquisitions, we had many different silos. We support basically over 10 different product lines and/or applications that are used internally, commercially, or in the retail space. And so, one of the challenges we had fundamentally was that the teams were working in silos and especially for a company that was seeking to integrate those different product groups into a sort of a unified solution for our customer base. That siloed sort of mindset, the mentality of many of these teams were a hindrance to that.
As a result of having those silos, the teams were also creating processes that were very much customized to their particular product and only their products so they couldn’t it be standardized the prospect of the organization.
So, when you get these two things, you lack a cross-functionality of you teams, which means you have all your eggs in one basket where each basket ended up having a lack of standardized reporting to be able to be compared to what the level of quality is across the organization.
Now, when we brought in our QA partner, the QA transformation with the challenges that we had during the transformation as we can imagine are that you have the siloed teams that are non cross functional and you try to build a team that is cross functional and non-siloed. Alongside, you have the challenges of folks believing that they were training their placements, a fundamental problem. So, while that isn’t always the case, it’s obviously human nature to believe that so you had a lot of resistance to sharing of information, sharing of access to different things.
Communication is another thing that during transformation becomes ultra–critical that all teams are sort of transparent. And when you are used to working in a silo, you are used to everyone having a boundary up where nobody outside the family comes in without everyone knowing already.
Third is around ownership – when those migrations and transitions happen and who takes ownership. I think those are some of the fundamental organizational challenges that you always get when you do a transformation, and these are the ones that we experienced
To answer your last part of the question, which was how did you address them. Obviously, having a QA partner that is experienced in this sort of transformations is key. They use different tools, different communication methods, ensuring this transition went as smoothly as possible. I think on the management layer, just having that open conversation and that open communication channel around the concerns where as the customer or client had the ability to openly communicate any concerns or issues that we had and were dealt with immediately.
It was around quality of resources at the end of the day. Good folks who know their stuff, who had the experience, who understand what we are trying to do, and understand the overall goal make things easier rather than micro manage a situation – where folks are very much self starters, they know what they are doing, they know how to report issues, they know how to ask when a issue occurs, they don’t wait on things.
Ralph: That is interesting that you brought that up as some of the challenges you just pointed out in the transformation are across all industries. You know knowledge is power and any time there is change, people try to protect their knowledge. This is because they feel like getting some inherent power so that is very interesting to see in this industry as well. You also talked about QA vendors or QA partners. So, what are the key things that you look to when you select a QA vendor?
Ed: First of all, obviously is the capability. It is an analysis of what that organization brings and the QA partner we have now is first of all their entire business is focused on QA because that is the bread and butter of their business. That is a lot of time, energy, and money into making sure their folks are top notch. They are retaining top notch folks and they are providing them with the tools and platforms they need to succeed in their engagements. Number one is that
Number two is we were looking for a vendor/partner that really did carry that partnership mindset. That they saw this as a benefit to their business. I don’t like to treat it as a typical vendor–partner relationship – just me asking/demanding things and then expecting them. It really is the sharing of information and knowledge, sharing of overall insights. The new partner comes with a new approach to the inherent constraints and challenges that my organization have and how we collectively plan around those constraints in order to still achieve success because no two environments are ever the same.
Number three is around the centers of excellences in the area that we specifically needed around test automation, performance testing, security testing, and functional testing. They had centers of excellence around those areas and have substantial areas of experience in the industry that my company reside in. So, it is a combination of all those factors.
And then of course, four is obviously it’s got to be cost efficient. Our current QA partner has been willing to work with us on that degree in terms of making sure we get the appropriate coverage while also remaining cost efficient as possible.
Ralph: Kalyan I am going to give you the last word today and kind of let you wrap it up with some insights as to how Cigniti works into this field and some of the key things they are doing in investments to make this move forward effectively.
Kalyan: Absolutely, so one of the things since the creation of the company, Cigniti as an organization, we really wanted to create a differentiation for us by building some solid IP that is bundled along with our services. That is something we had been very conscious about doing it and we were also able to do it very successfully. As the largest independent software testing company in North America, we work with several hundreds of clients on a day to day basis and we do see many problems in terms of software testing and quality, and not all the time, that there is a solution that is available in the market place, be it commercial or open–source, to some of the challenges.
That is how we created our own testing IP. This testing IP basically helps organizations to implement software testing and quality engineering into DevOps. The IP also focuses on improving the overall maturity of the test automation practices and test automation scripts that are being built and it also focuses on improving the overall end-user experience.
It does have element related to implementing the best test engineering methodologies, be it in terms of test case generation, execution, and aspects like that. So, those are the areas where Cigniti has built a significant amount of IP.
Ralph: Gentlemen, thank you for participating today. Thank you for a very spirited discussion. It was very informative, and I appreciate both of your times. Thank you.
Kalyan and Chris: Thank you, Ralph.
Ralph: Again, today we were joined by Ed Tan, Director of Quality Assurance and Support, and of course by my co-host, Kalyan Rao Kanda, President of Cigniti & Head of the North America East Business Unit. This has been QATalks. Remember to subscribe to QATalks in your favorite podcast platform. Thank you for joining, until next time.
Quality assurance is vital to the success of an organization’s digital transformation. Lack of control can quickly derail a company’s technological presence, costing thousands. At Cigniti, our resolution is to build a better world with better quality software. Renowned for the global quality thought leadership in the industry, we draw expertise from over a decade of test engineering experience across verticals. To learn how we do it, visit cigniti.com.
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