The Test & QA Temperature – Test Early and Often

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Greetings again everyone, this month’s travels and conversations lead me to the topic of testing earlier in the software development lifecycle (SDLC).  This practice continues to be a topic of conversation; and apparently pain.  According to the latest research from the World Quality Report: “Many businesses still engage in what could be described as reactive […]

Greetings again everyone, this month’s travels and conversations lead me to the topic of testing earlier in the software development lifecycle (SDLC).  This practice continues to be a topic of conversation; and apparently pain.  According to the latest research from the World Quality Report:

“Many businesses still engage in what could be described as reactive testing practices, involving QA teams too late in the application delivery lifecycle. Nearly half of the organizations interviewed (45%) start the testing process during or after the development phase – too late to influence application quality beyond finding and fixing defects, especially taking account of shorter and more frequent development lifecycles.  Furthermore, 61% say that they have no plans to introduce quality earlier in the lifecycle.”
 
In my travels, I consistently find organizations that cite late testing as a source of pain, yet can’t seem to overcome the hurdles with engaging earlier.  The benefits of early testing[1] have been loudly repeated throughout the Testing & QA industry for years; and CIO’s are well aware of them.  However, the issue remains.  The irony is that the challenge of what I call “testing early and often”, is being discussed as if the problem is something new.  The IT consulting industry is coining terms such as: Zero Deviation and Next-Gen QA.  I recall discussing this challenge with colleagues at AT&T nearly 20 years ago.  So why is the lack of testing early and often still an issue?
 
It’s complicated, that’s why.  There are social and technical challenges that need to be overcome in order to begin the journey of injecting testing earlier in the software lifecycle.  Our Capgemini teams have accomplished the practice of ‘testing early and often’ with some of our clients.  Here are the engagement characteristics which cultivate an environment for success:

  • The testing team has illustrated credibility with both Development and Business teams by staffing up with people who have combination(s) of development, test and business acumen.
  • The testing team has proven that their efforts find defects of consequence to the business
  • Stakeholders are clear supports of early test engagement

With the adoption of agile, more and more organizations are embracing early testing through methods such as Test Driven Development.  However, they still represent the minority.

Testing earlier in the SDLC provides economic value and shortens the release cycle.  There is enough research and empirical evidence for everyone to accept this claim.  As a community we need to embrace it.  There are enough “simple hacks” out there in order for you to try it out as a proof of concept.  So give it a try in your organization.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Stay tuned for more to come next month on my travels and conversation regarding the Software Testing and QA industry.  In the meantime….”trust, but verify”.
-Dr. Kapfhammer


[1] Jones, C. (2009). Software Engineering Best Practices. McGraw-Hill, Inc..

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