The pure joy of innovation…

I went along to a networking event last night, run by the Innovic – http://www.innovic.com.au/home/ in Melbourne. A great event and that wasn’t just the cocktails! I got the opportunity to meet interesting people involved in all aspects of innovation in Melbourne. I think every once in a while its good to get your head out of your own space and realise that there are some exceptionally creative and clever people out there. It reminds me why I provide software testing services to such a small and not so lucrative area of the market . I get the opportunity to work with people who design, incubate and serve great designers and developers. Its inspiring to meet people so passionate about what they do.

I think software testers can provide real benefit to startup companies by providing that all essential third party independent perspective before it gets to the first customer. After all, first impressions count for an awful lot these days.

It was also interesting the note the power of personal contact. Sometimes I get so caught up with online promotion, I forget that talking and communicating one on one can be more effective than endless hours of online promotion, and its a lot more fun. Try shutting down the computer now and then and meet up with some like minded individuals. Who knows what you may get out of it….

So, why do you software test?

How low do you go?

A survey* sponsored by the Australian Computer Society, found the following percentage allocation for software testing:

5% allocate more than 40% of the initial development budget to testing

25% allocate between 10 -19% of the initial development budget to testing

25% allocate between 20 – 29% of the initial development budget to testing

14% allocate between 30 – 39% of the initial development budget to testing

12% allocate less than 10% of the initial development budget to testing

I’ll leave you to make up your own mind about these stats.

*A preliminary survey on software testing practices in Australia by S.P Ng, T. Murnane, K. Reed, D. Grant and T.Y Chen

Getting ROI from your freelance software tester

Development houses have a right to expect a lot from a freelance tester.

Firstly, without the endless budget of some larger companies, they can ill afford time and money caused by improper scoping and testing.

Secondly, they have recognised the advantage of having an independent review of the product and that in its own right deserves to be appreciated.

In order to get the best return on investment from their tester, communication of priorities and expectations must be passed onto the tester. With knowledge, testers can focus their effort on what developer priorities instead of what they suspect is their priorities.

I’ve created a short questionnaire to clarify to developers what a tester needs. It contains some of these areas:

1) What do you as a developer value most? Consistency, Quality, Breadth of testing,
2) What specifically do you want tested in web testing?
3) What technology are you using?
4) What testing has already been performed?
5) Do you have any specs of any sort?
6) Is this new software, or updated software
7) What sort of feedback do you want? Defect reports, results?

Note: These questions have been created with web testing in mind, but can be changed for any type of testing

Here’s an example of what I use

Customer survey (pdf reader required)

Having this information upfront helps everyone because:
1) There is an agreed understanding of the scope of testing
2) Quotes can be validated through the questionnaire
3) More upfront information maximises your return on investment allowing focus on customer driven testing
4) It provides an insight into the software testing process

The above information is used to create tests in a spreadsheet which I use to track defects and results.

See example:Software Testing Template(pdf reader required)

With this document you have the benefit of evidence of testing which can be useful for contractual purposes. It also assists in future upgrades, streamlining the next round of testing.

Like what your read? Please feel free to use the ideas I have here. Do us a favour though, leave a comment, or digg the post. Thanks !!

Benefits of Software Testing

Looking at the benefits of software testing from a business perspective can be quite a challenge if your a blue-hat, IT type of person as I am. To sell testing effectively though, its helpful to view testing from the perspective of the person who ultimately gets to make the decisions. So here goes!The way I see it, business is about Profit and Loss. So I’ve split up business as follows ;

1) Business want make money through sales
2) Business want cost cutting to improve the profit margin

Business want to sell things

If business is about selling products or services, how in business terms can software testing help sell a product? I’ve come up with the following possibilities;
1) Software testing discovers if critical functionality works. This is helpful to know when your trying to sell something (I’m assuming!)
2) Software testing makes sure that your product doesn’t negatively affect interacting systems. I suspect this helps encourage repeat sales.
2) It provides tangible results which can be used to sell the product. For example, you can use your proven high performance as a selling point
3) It demonstrates delivery from a contractual perspective through acceptance testing
4) It gives confidence to those selling the product. There is added benefit in knowing the product your selling works.
5) Certification can provide business a selling point. If your system conforms to a technical standard, it may help your product to be perceived as reliable.

Business want to save money

How can testing help save a company money?
1) Early fault detection reduces the cost of fault detection. The earlier a defect is found, the less development rework and re-test is required, minimising its implementation cost. The Baziuk Study (1995) estimates the relative cost to repair a defect found in Operations to be between 470 – 880 times the amount found in the Requirements phase of the lifecycle*
2)It delivers efficiencies in the software development process through metrics such as root cause analysis . These detect possible areas of improvement for software development.
3) Software testing is the source of information such as defect reports, metrics and results that assist IT perform their roles efficiently. Project managers rely on metrics to report on progress, operations, on tangible results to extrapolate future hardware requirements and developers on defect reports to fix their code.

As is plainly obvious, I do not a heavy background in business, so I’d be most interested in comments from those who have! And testers, how have you helped your company save money through testing?

*National Institute of Standards and Technology, May 2002

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