Making a (check)list, and checking it twice: QA and UAT process development

Santa was on to something: making a list and checking it twice. In an effort to avoid errors in his gift and coal deliveries, going down his list of recipients and double-checking ensures that the naughty list gets all the coal that’s coming to them, and the nice list gets a sweet new *insert coveted item here* each year on December 25th.

Taking a page out of old Kris Kringle’s book, applying this same method of double-checking to campaign and email creation can ensure that projects are error-free going out the door in the exact fashion that the client envisioned.

Developing Quality Assurance (QA) practices is important when providing services to clients and can be done relatively easily as the project is developed. Start with making a list of all the steps used to create the project. Let’s take an email campaign for example: Client X provides the creative vision for their email campaign. They provide a mockup of how the email should render when sent to their end users, and they also provide a list of targeted audience members comprised of end users to which they want the email to deploy.

As the project makes its way through the build stages — the HTML, copy, and images are all applied to the dashboard in Responsys or Eloqua, the segmentation is generated, the program or campaign flow is constructed — make a note to develop a checklist of all the assets and different data points created, campaign settings that were enabled, any segment/audience targeting criteria specified, if link tracking was enabled, etc. Use this checklist to conduct a self-QA of the overall project once the build is complete to ensure that it meets all requirements outlined by the client.

When the project build passes the initial self-check, send the project’s QA checklist and all relevant details off to an internal colleague to review as well. Heck, send to two colleagues if the spirit strikes. Getting a second (or third) set of eyes on the project only helps with making sure that the project is as near to perfection as possible. Request that the colleagues review everything and provide feedback (in writing) for any callouts, issues, or preventable errors, and make the appropriate fixes.

Once the A-OK is given by all internal QA colleagues, it’s on to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) with the project requestors themselves: The Client. Now, providing a checklist for UAT is not typically necessary since the folks reviewing the work will most likely have their list of requirements ready to check off on their end. It goes without saying that since they were the visionaries for this project, they know what to look for.

UAT processes, while overall are similar in tactics, are unique to each client. Some clients want to only receive a proof or test email to review, while others may prefer to get into the platform and take a more in-depth look at the setup. UAT processes can consist of a client just wanting test/proof emails to make sure the links land to the correct landing page and that the images render correctly. Some prefer to test through a service like Litmus or Email on Acid as well to confirm that the emails render accordingly in multiple Email Service Providers (ESP)s and email clients. The UAT process invites updates and edits from not only the project requestors, but often time includes feedback from multiple business partners, marketers, and other stakeholders on the client side, and can sometimes take several rounds to get the email or campaign exact.

When working with new clients, it’s important to communicate the expectations of UAT on their end in order to cover all the bases with the end-goal being the email reaches the correct group of end users with flawless execution. Once the client provides in writing that the email and all supplemental assets are approved, then it’s off to the races. The email or campaign deploys without a hitch, just in time for another new project request submission, and to start the QA and UAT processes once again.

Making a checklist of all points of the project build and checking it twice allows for projects to be completed timely and flawlessly, leading to a very happy client. Building strong QA and UAT practices and implementing them on each and every project allows for an error-free execution that builds a substantial level of trust between the client and the production service providers and can lead to a long and successful project partnership.

Need guidance when it comes to QA or UAT process development? Relationship One is here to help, just let us know!

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