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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

How are we going to get Strategic Value from Testing

As the time to market for software products continues to decrease, the need to maximise the return we get for the money invested in development projects has never been greater.

As testers we are faced with a special kind of challenge - we dont write the code, we dont design the code, we dont belong to the business who will benefit from the code - so where do we fit in?

I think that we know the answer to that, but a lot of people around us dont. We need to find a way to speak their language, and transcend the barriers and perceptions between us. By approaching testing in a mature and professional way we can realise value to the teams around us, get a better product out the door and also generate unique management information on which to monitor and further refine the development processes.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently and also how I as a user of software products am becoming increasingly fault intolerant. The proliferation of systems and devices into every day life means that inherent defects can impact us in a very personal way e.g. cant get to my diary, recorded the wrong TV programme etc. I mean have you ever tried to use diary facilities - there's a system with a need for some serious testing commitment.

I notice that seemingly trivial bugs frustrate a great many people and as an end user community the only real power we all have is to show our feelings by finding an alternative product - its not like my mobile phone comes with a defect tracking tool, or even a very helpful customer service portal!

With this in mind I think that significant competitive advantage can be secured for the organisations that can test their software well and thereby deliver products:
Faster – bringing them to the market first, or at least earlier than the majority of their competitors. Getting them to the front of the innovation queue.

Cheaper – perhaps increasing the efficacy of testing earlier in the lifecycle to reduce costly re-work and help improve the total cost of product development

With higher quality – being the product of choice, with a reputation for quality and resilience will ultimately secure long term market share.

At TCL we recognise that a challenge exists to find these kinds of strategic value on every project and our solutions are focussed on providing innovative, structured and professional ways to engage with organisations to meet their unique challenges. But is this enough?

Where can we get more strategic value from? Who do we need to convince that testing has more to offer than it is currently doing? Why are so many testing projects making the same old mistakes, and delivering so little value? (not ours I hasten to add!)

Difficult questions - with no short answer. I'll share my thoughts with you as they develop....

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