6 July 2017

A proven software testing company can solve 5 painful challenges for you

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Proven software testing companies can overcome 5 painful challenges
Many a software testing company will claim to do everything and anything under the sun for you. But only proven software testing experts will be able to prove to you how they can solve your most painful software quality challenges, like speed of testing, speed to market, support costs, process optimisation and others.

The challenges you are facing in your software development and delivery pipeline are unlikely to be unique. These issues usually stem from a mishmash of approaches and methodologies that are ill-suited to modern applications and their development practices. Even though software development techniques and industry participants have changed dynamically to suit the needs of users and enterprises, the software testing world has, for the most part, remained rooted to ineffective ideologies and practices.

The fix for these ails is not easy, but it is achievable. As a specialist software testing company we created our own testing tools and infrastructure platform and methodologies to help our customers get out of the rut of failed IT projects. The problems we solve and those I'm going to tell you about here are commonly repeated to us by our prospects before they become our customers. The same problems are also described in research conducted by reputable global organisations.

Hang on, what do you mean by "proven software testing company?"

This is an easy one because a proven or specialist software testing company combines three elements to deliver value and solve customers' pain points, specifically those that I will describe below:
3 components of a successful software testing & test automation services
The best software testing services companies bring a unified approach that comprehensively addresses each of the three factors above. Other service providers who use software testing services as a "bolt-on" up-sell strategy usually end up creating situations that do irreparable damage to otherwise competent professionals' reputations or disasters like this:
The practice of asking your developers or your development service company to test the application they are building is like asking Volkswagon to test the emissions of their cars. You may snicker quietly, but it astounds me how prevalent this practice still is:
If you just had a eureka moment or are compelled to let a rueful "d'oh", take advantage of our free software quality strategy sessions where one of our experts can help you devise a plan to get you back on track. In times like this we often fall back on these words of wisdom from a legendary British war-time leader:
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

Painful Challenge #1: My requirements keep on changing

Dynamically shifting requirements and scope creep have been the eternal bugbear of every development team that has ever formed on this planet. It has resulted in messy legal brawls and media outbursts that have only served the purposes of highly paid lawyers and media barons.

A recent study has noted that this is a significant problem for senior IT executives responsible for software testing too:
Frankly, it surprises me that this number is so high. Isn't it the role of software testing to conform to dynamic user journeys and ensure that a high quality product is released, particularly with the increased adoption of Agile and BDD? We certainly think so and anyone in our team who complains about this quickly understands that the care factor for such complaints is south of zero.

I think such complaints from testing teams is a creative take on two similar complaints:
  • There is too much work and I can't be bothered with any more; and
  • I got into testing because I thought it would be easy, and this is not easy!
Attitude factors aside, the requirements shifting issue in software testing can also be attributed to a history of using fragmented systems and processes, cobbled together from competing vendors and kept in place by nothing stronger than masking tape. Such systems do not allow the creation and enhancement of purpose-built testing frameworks that are flexible enough to adapt to change. This symptom likely explains this observation, albeit that it was made within the context of test automation:
Integrating multiple tools just for test automation doesn't make sense
Proven software testing companies will clearly explain to you about their process for adapting to changing requirements and how the technology platform they use allows this to happen. Without a solid process for doing this, software testing specialists such as ourselves would be dead in the water. Effective processes that enable adaptation are also a reason that product companies trust us to do undertake their entire gamut of software quality work, from unit tests to end-to-end functional test automation.

Painful Challenge #2: I can't find and keep testers

This was one of the top 5 challenges in software testing faced by senior IT executives, but I find the percentage who complained about this, incredibly low. From my experience of talking to prospects and customers alike, this number should be well above 50%:
My friend and Qsome co-founder Meena Kumar wrote this about finding and retaining high quality software testers:
Finding good software testers is a hard task. Retaining them for a decent length of time is even more difficult. The churn that comes with frequent turnover in your team will cripple any otherwise effective application delivery program if you are not able to give your testers an engaging work environment where they feel valued.
Meena Kumar
Most good software testers have a software engineering background. This usually implies that they had dreams of becoming a software developer when they started their tertiary education. Along the way life happened (and probably a few stock market crashes, too) and they turned their talents to software testing instead. No amount of success in the testing field will extinguish the desire to be known as a badass developer for many such testers.

The other element to the software tester retention problem is one of monotony, especially in manual testing-only environments. How long can you expect a human to religiously ply through the same regression test scripts without falling victim to the twin evils of boredom and concentration lapses?

Proven software testing companies solve this dilemma in a number of ways. By taking a consulting-centric approach and making our software testers part of value generating methodologies, we can not only attract the best brains in the business, but also retain them longer than most of our competitors.

This subtle difference in how we are able to engage and motivate our teams is one that is often missed by our competitors who use software testing as a bolted-on up-sell approach to the customer.

Want to see how our test automation tools use analytics to cut testing time to hours or minutes?

Painful Challenge #3: We (want to) release fast & testing can't keep up

This perception is a combined effect of the first two pain-points and the fact that most IT executives either don't believe in test automation or have been pouring money into test automation that does not work. Both extremes have led to a stagnation in the perceived efficiency of software testers and a growth in the school of thought that believes test automation is an expensive mirage.

One of the reasons fuelling these two perceptions is this:
There is a lot of noise in the software testing tools space and much of it is being made by "influencers" who take cover under buzzwords and fads to promote underwhelming testing tools. Unfortunately, this creates mayhem in the minds of IT decision makers who end up blaming their software testing teams:
Proven software testing companies well understand the power of test automation. More importantly, we design our testing methodologies to ensure that every test that should be automated, is automated. This allows our customers to execute regression testing early and often and enables software testers to devote greater time to tasks such as exploratory testing, which serve to reveal the fringe situations where a user journey may break down.

Completing the feedback loop so that automated and manual regression testing suites are updated to include testing for new-found defects or knowledge is vital to building a cohesive and efficient software testing practice. We disregard this last step in the process at our and our customers' peril.

Painful Challenge #4: High maintenance, unstable & complex test environments

This is an all-encompassing problem and one that is not easy to fix:
Most medium to large organisations are tied into multi-year licensing agreements with legacy software testing tool vendors. These vendors have not been able to enhance their testing tools to keep pace with modern development methodologies and delivery requirements. Because of such lock-in contracts, customers are unable to take advantage of new on-demand testing tools and testing infrastructure which is purpose-built to enable faster application delivery with greater coverage across browsers and devices.

I also observed with keen interest the increasing reliance on free and open-source "testing tools":
Open source has many advantages: it's free, there is usually a large body of knowledge available online and users don't have to start from scratch. It also has some disadvantages that are conveniently forgotten: it is not usually a complete product or system, configuration can be very time-consuming without prior experience and you have to support it yourself.

These drawbacks alone are enough to rob you of any cost savings you were hoping to make by getting a "free" testing tool. The most common example of this syndrome is Selenium. We use Selenium as the automation engine for web app test automation in the Qsome Technology Platform. It is great for that purpose and suits us and our customers well. Download our Ultimate Guide to Test Automation for CXOs to peruse the comparison charts of different enterprise-grade testing tools as well as automation engines for web and mobile testing.

The problem is that many in the industry consider Selenium to be the panacea for all their test automation woes. What such people are missing is that Selenium is not a software testing tool. It's a set of APIs to control a browser. The essential elements of any good testing tool, eg. test management, test infrastructure, test analysis, etc, still need to be built or cobbled together from other vendors.

Such practices only serve to confuse customers and create inefficiencies in software testing processes. Proven software testing companies understand this and will explain why their preferred software testing tool is more suited to achieving the desired goals.

It's for this reason that we only provide our software testing services if the customer agrees to use our functional testing and load testing tools.

Understand how an on-demand software testing tool and testing infrastructure could help you release faster & higher quality applications.

Painful Challenge #5: The Uber effect on users' expectations of application quality

It has been proven. Today's application users, particularly employees and vendors, are demanding higher quality applications:
I call this the "Uber-isation of enterprise IT". Most of us have used Uber instead of traditional taxis and have been spoiled by the near seamless user experience that Uber treats us to when booking our "personal driver." The bad news for senior IT executives is that their colleagues are demanding similarly seamless experiences in the applications that drive their daily workflow.

Satisfying this expectation is nigh on impossible if you can't find and retain testers, have the wrong testing tools, don't have the right testing frameworks or have cobbled together your testing environment using free code from the internet.

Proven testing companies not only have turn-key solutions to such problems, but we are also able to convert our learnings from one project into more effective and efficient service delivery of our other customers' projects too. Replicating this cross-pollination of ideas will likely be difficult for your teams.

Call me and I'll be happy to tell you how we used the knowledge learned from automating tests for time-delayed or asynchronous user journeys from one customer to help with delivery of our Salesforce testing services for other customers.

If you need help in solving these challenges, or in cutting software testing time and finding more bugs before your application's users find them, speak to us understand how we will be able to help you. Right now, we're offering a free strategy session to help set you on the right path to achieve your goals.
Or contact us on +61 8 8312 1287 or solutions[at]qsometech.com

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