I had a task flag to take a look at the proceedings from the annual International Conference for Software Process Improvement, ICSPI 2008, but on visiting their site I was pretty amazed to find this message. Due to severe cuts in education and travel budgets across most organizations, the International Conference on Software Process Improvement (ICSPI) 2008, which was scheduled to take place October 20 th -24th , is regretfully being postponed until October, 2009. Yup a casualty of the credit crunch it would seem.
Okay maybe this isn’t one of the biggest events around, but it has been a good ‘working’ event by the people involved in the topic for the people who are involved in the topic, but maybe that’s been its downfall, no big names and publicity just the kind of good feedback and discussions we all feel the need for from time to time. The major reason I was interested was in the ‘how’ software development processes can be improved. It’s part of my own feelings that development tools are improving, but on the other side of the fence smaller, faster, is likely to be the way increasingly, and this, particularly in ‘tough times’ is likely to put pressure on time which all to often means quality suffers.
So if the credit crunch is changing the projects what about the testing side? After all testing tools are expense, often expansive, and their use can be complex, all of which seems to be going in the opposite direction to the trend towards smaller simpler better defined projects where presumably the risks are also better clarified. Sure enough there are some companies out there who have recognised the opportunity with single user testing suites.

Actually the real question that has been occupying my thoughts is if the new generation of ‘services’ as opposed to monolithic applications is the beginning of a real shift to doing development in a different manner. Better tools, smaller and less complex dependencies, etc. all should mean a simplification in the development side. The challenge for testing has always been exactly what do you test, with the traditional robust discussion between the developers and the testers on this topic. But if you shift to Agile Development, and focus on small two week development ‘sprints’ for focussed requirements then the costly time consuming testing phase at the end of a project is considered by many to be cut right back, some even claim all, but avoided.
If I add all these pressures together; credit crunch demanding cost reductions, tougher markets demanding new products and smart services, buying and selling across the Web for better business, internal decision support and collaboration, then it all seems to favour driving experimentation towards changing the development and testing methods away from those that were fundamentally built to handle big enterprise application programmes.
However I am not sure that I am right in this as when I caught sight of a list of the ten skills said to be most recession proof in the UK IT industry it seemed to suggest that the old world was still dominating when it came to skills! The software tester is right up there at number two which suggests that there is a feeling that testing is actually going to be more important, – seems strange if there are less big projects – whilst developers are down at number seven. So who is at number one? Security Professionals! And at number three we have network engineers, so my own view is that testing may be changing even more than just in tune with development methods.
Back to the question; what needs to be tested? Well increasingly it isn’t only the quality of the code; it isn’t even just enough to test for conventional security flaws, no it will need to be checked for support to a wider, and increasing, range of security and standards compliance. Mmm – may be that’s why testing professionals rate a number two position, the demand is still there, but what needs to be tested is changing?