Kirstin Whittle (Sr. Manager, Business Development) discusses how parallel QA and support services improve products and user experiences.
Every Developer and Publisher manages their QA and Customer Support differently, and often separately, because QA can be seen as the opposite of Support – QA is finding bugs during development so the consumer won’t see them and Support is the consumer finding bugs and bringing them to the attention of the developer. But in reality, they’re both part of the same process: delivering a great user experience. Aggressive sprint cycles for regular updates and new downloadable content mean work on successful titles never stops, and that makes having efficient processes for both QA and Support more essential than ever – and the hybrid model is emerging as the most effective method of ensuring quality within tight time frames.
What is the hybrid model?
I define it as the bundling of QA and Support by a single provider with connected teams. This process allows your title to have Testing, Localisation and Support managed simultaneously utilising a common knowledge base for economies of scale.
Consider the complexity of the knowledge transfer process with multiple service companies: first, you brief your QA Partner about the project; then you brief your Translation Partner about the project; when that’s complete, you brief your Audio Partner and then the LQA Partner next until you’re finally briefing your Support Partner about all of the issues that were identified in the process. Each partner has a limited understanding of the previous partners’ work, with no simple way to cross-reference issues or ask questions of the other providers. These circumstances not only slow your development process, they increase your management time and cost, reduce accuracy and consistency, and increase the possibility of duplication of process and effort.
The hybrid model streamlines this process by having every team operating from the same knowledge base and easily communicating in real-time about discovered or known issues. The hybrid process accelerates each area through improved knowledge retention and collaboration and gives Developers and Publishers a single point of contact for inquiry and discussion on any aspect of the QA and Support process.
Moreover, the hybrid model delivers a better experience for your users because the Support Team has access to the latest real-time information about bugs, patches, updates, and other known issues. This gives the Support Agent more authority and gives the user confidence that you’re actively addressing issues on the game they want to play. Combined, this ensures an overall better impression of your Company, IP, and Support.
This method can deliver even further economies of scale by deploying Support Teams who are also trained in QA techniques, smoothing out the peaks and valleys of the cyclical development process of QA needs rising pre-launch and user support needs rising post-launch.
Time to market is a critical factor for regularly updated titles, so having a reliable process for effective and efficient Testing and Support is critical to your ability to satisfy and maintain your player base. The hybrid QA/Support model delivers the product quality and customer satisfaction you need on the development schedule your title is committed to. In other words, it’s not just faster – it’s better.