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Managing Millennials in Software Testing: Virtusa’s Approach

Virtusa recently briefed NelsonHall on its gamification approach within its software testing offering.

Virtusa is a fast growing offshore (India and Sri Lanka) oriented service provider. Its FY 2014 (year ended March 31, 2014) revenues were $397m, a growth of 19%. This followed growth of 20% in FY 2013 and 27% in FY 2012. The company has just over 8k employees. Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Massachusetts, Virtusa has offices in the U.S. (70% of revenues) and U.K. (25%), and global delivery centers in India and Sri Lanka.

The largest unit of Virtusa is its testing practice, Independent Software Quality (ISQ), which has a headcount of 1.7k (and NelsonHall estimated revenues of ~$100m in FY 2014).

For the last two years, Virtusa has been promoting the notion of “enabling the millennial experience” (i.e. for individuals born after 1984,currently representing 75% of Virtusa's headcount). In support of this, Virtusa has developed its V+ application, a social media tool, for use by its developers and testers. V+ recreates social and internet experiences used by millennials in their personal lives, in the context of an enterprise, in this case Virtusa. It integrates applications through a portal (based on Microsoft SharePoint) including ERP, CRM, and messaging, and uses search and social tools including Yammer, for enterprise collaboration, VTube for video sharing, and other tools including wikis, V-innovation for gathering ideas from personnel.

The ISQ unit has adopted this millennial generation approach and is promoting internally a gamification effort. The aim is to further increase the productivity of its personnel while relying on techniques relevant to its millennial employees. ISQ has launched within Mysite (an application similar to Linkedin), as part of V+, two main initiatives: Personal Excellence Process (PEP) and QA Leaderboard.

  • PEP displays individual performance tracking, training and reporting for all ISQ personnel. It aims to promote employee involvement in the testing community and positive attitudes through collaboration in best practices, reuse of assets and also responding to colleague enquiries
  • QA Leaderboard is essentially a dashboard for each ISQ member, reporting productivity (depending on the role) on test design, test automation, execution and defect identification. As part of QA Leaderboard, ISQ launches weekly challenges such as finding the highest number of defects that have the biggest impact on the client’s costs. Virtusa ISQ tries to combine productivity, e.g. find more defects, with knowledge/creativity of its personnel, e.g. identify defects that may be the most impactful
    -A key principle for Virtusa ISQ is to promote self-competition i.e. incentivize one employee to perform better one week after the other, as opposed to competing with other ISQ members.

ISQ is finding it can expand its millennial approach to build new offerings, for example, the ISQ practice launched its on-demand testing offering based on the usage of Yammer. With on-demand testing, clients have the option to ask within a given time frame, for a specific number of testing hours for activities such as usability testing or exploratory functional testing. ISQ uses Yammer to identify volunteers for working extra hours. ISQ will offer employees client incentives such as gift cards and internal recognition. Pricing of the service is based on a monthly fee for maintaining access to “on-demand personnel” plus a price per hour and per tester for each project. An employee’s additional “on-demand” work is reported into PEP.

Having used V+ internally, Virtusa has started selling the product to external clients.

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Virtusa’s work as outlined above is an innovative approach by an IT services vendor in applying social tools and gamification to its testing workforce, not only for training and to improve productivity, but also in developing new offerings to clients.

Virtusa is also giving ideas to managers over 30 on how to work, incentivize, and manage a millennial generation. It highlights that its approach is driving a 20% gain in testing productivity, by its weekly gamification efforts.

Virusa’s ISQ gamification approach raises quite a number of questions, in terms of:

  • How long a self-competition approach will last for Virtusa ISQ personnel
  • The level of incentives for ISQ personnel volunteering for work
  • How to avoid peer pressure to volunteer for additional work in the long run from a Virtusa personnel standpoint

Virtusa’s ISQ approach does not solve all questions for a manager of millennials. It does, however, give some important clues for managing teams of millennials within the context of testing services.

 

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