Three Signs of ‘Testing Disconnect’ and What You Can Do About It

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Three Signs of ‘Testing Disconnect’ and What You Can Do About It

The concepts of QA and testing are changing. Are you?

As the concept of true SDLC-wide software quality continues to rise in importance, many organizations are experiencing “testing disconnect”—a widening gap between adherence to corporate quality standards and the reality of releasing quality software into production quickly. How is it that a function (test) put in place to address “quality” actually results in software products being delivered with high defects? It’s really not surprising, and no one group or person is to blame. Dramatic shifts in technology, new agile-like methodologies, and continuous business pressures can create a perfect storm that inadvertently disconnects the original test strategy from the ultimate business goal of delivering quality software products. And organizations are left with trickle down effects ranging from inefficient processes and wasted effort to delivering buggy, low performance software that doesn’t provide users with the experience they demand.

Whether you’re feeling the pain of a major transformation or just feeling disconnected from software development efforts, here are three signs of ‘testing disconnect’ that may be preventing your organization from achieving its software quality goals:

#1 Sign of Testing Disconnect — One Workflow Fits All

More functions within the organization are moving to agile-like methodologies to better respond to business change. But it’s still common for the testing function to use the same methods and tools for every situation. Break-fix emergencies, maintenance work and complex projects are treated the same. This leads to inefficient use of resources and tolerance stack-ups. And testing becomes a roadblock to delivery. Sound familiar?

What to do: Examine your current workflow and identify potential testing integration points. If the same test processes are used across the board, map the different workflows for different situations to the appropriate level of time and resources required. For example, high-risk complex projects should be handled with a more rigorous process than maintenance work. Determine where automation can be integrated into routine tasks to free up valuable testing resources. By aligning the right level of effort to the task, the testing function will become more efficient and responsive while eliminating waste. Next, identify activities where testers can provide value earlier in the life cycle. For example, involve testers in upfront planning and user stories. Integrating testers throughout the process will enable them to deliver incremental value in a more agile way, moving quality upstream.

#2 Sign of Testing Disconnect — Testing Is Left For The Testers

The testing function is often a siloed group from the rest of the organization. They are often viewed as the group responsible for testing but are usually left out of early discussions regarding the requirements and delivery timeline. So it’s not surprising when the project marches on to a promised released date and defects appear in production, the testing function gets heat. Sound familiar?

What to do: Don’t think of test as a phase to catch already produced defects. Move to a build quality in mindset by making quality everyone’s job. Moving quality upstream requires effort from many functions. Everyone should be focusing on quality throughout the process: prototyping sessions should be held; developers should be unit testing their own code constantly; the test organization should be testing system functionality; and business users should be responsible for validating and accepting the solution. When every function focuses on quality, potential problems and defects can be uncovered and addressed earlier in the process.

#3 Sign of Testing Disconnect — Disconnected Third-Party Testing Resources

Third-party testing resources are certainly skilled at the task at hand, but if they are not focused on current business objectives and integrated with other core functions, inefficiency, waste and defects are certain. This problem can extend further into the workings of all functions, where unsynchronized work leads to yet more inefficiency and more defects. Management is left wondering if the investment is providing value. Sound familiar?

What to do: Review your existing service provider agreement and determine if it is aligned with your current project portfolio and business goals. Many service provider agreements are long term, having been in place for several years or even inherited by a new CIO. First, review and assess whether or not activities outlined in the agreement are being achieved, such as ‘x’ number of test cases being executed or reducing defect counts by ‘x’ percent. Moving forward, treat third-party test resources like true partners: integrate them with other core functions; ensure governance of their activities and promises; enable them to focus on quality throughout the software development life cycle. With all parties finding defects earlier in the process, efficiency and better software products will follow.

Organizations will continue to strive for efficiency, do more with less and innovate faster. But as the concepts of QA and testing continue to change, be sure to have reliable, software quality practitioners that possess work experience in line with your initiatives—practitioners that have a holistic appreciation for the interdependencies and nuances of achieving the highest quality possible, regardless of constraints. These experts not only know how to perform the job, but also have a solid understanding of the impact of testing processes on project goals, budget and timing.

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