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Updated: March 14, 2011 12:10 IST

Need for disciplined testing to be competitive

D. Murali
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When the software market started becoming competitive, the focus of organisations shifted to releasing high-quality software products from just software products, writes Saurabh Chandra in ‘Automation Testing’ (www.tatamcgrawhill.com). This shift helped in conceptualising a dedicated wing for ‘quality assurance,’ which finally got due credit as an important branch of the software development life cycle (SDLC), he adds.

The move from manual methods

The book traces how, as this branch of engineering matured, quality assurance was divided into two main areas, viz. quality auditing and testing. For starters, quality auditors usually check whether all the required standards and procedures laid down since the inception of the SDLC are being adhered to. And manual testing was mainly conducted to test the product for its functionality, release mechanism, performance and user-acceptability.

One also learns that due to tough market competition during the late 1980s and the early 1990s, testing was given a new dimension and a specialised branch of testing known as ‘automation testing and engineering’ was born. Since this was a highly specialised field of testing, it was tough to get people in the early stages, the author reminisces.

“But with time as this field gained popularity, professionals with the right mix of technical and domain knowledge started grooming themselves for it. After overcoming these challenges, the industry became ‘technically’ sound in testing applications, releasing profitable quality products within a highly competitive timeframe.”

Second-largest HR consumer

An informative foreword by Robin Sahai opens by acknowledging that testing, despite its importance within the engineering culture, is often overlooked in companies. He highlights that testing usually ranks as the second-largest consumer of human resources within most software projects, and that in some forward-thinking organisations, the ratio of developers to QA is as high as 1:1.

While this indicates a realisation and commitment by most companies to focus on quality, the education and discipline devoted to learning the mechanics of producing quality software are seldom instilled within these testing organisations, rues Sahai. Reminding that, today, time-to-market is an important consideration for most organisations, with delivery dates often decided much before requirements, he notes that, in this frenetic pace, a disciplined, highly-automated testing organisation can be invaluable.

In Sahai’s view, automation helps an organisation achieve multiple objectives, thus: “First, by running a disciplined automated test execution programme, organisations can validate their code faster – faster QA leads to faster development. Second, a good automation programme within an organisation helps in job satisfaction and retention as it enables engineers to be engineers. And, third, despite attrition, domain expertise is not lost since the automated tests continue to exist and execute.”

Good beginner material for the entry-level professionals in the field.

**

Tailpiece

“I studied in a campus that had to pay money to get IT companies come for placement…”

“Oh!”

“And it was only later that I realised our salaries came that way.”

**

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