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Inside this Issue:

  1. "Happy About Global Software Test Automation"

Subject: Oct 2006 eZine: "Happy About Global Software Test Automation"

Value Framework® Institute eZine: Your Link to Business Strategy
October 2, 2006 *5,500 subscribers* Volume 8, Issue 4
Online at http://ValueFrameworkInstitute.org/publications.html
This Issue online at http://ValueFrameworkInstitute.org/Oct2006/

In this issue, I wanted to share an excerpt from the recently released book "Happy About Global Software Test Automation." Please let me know what you think. Learn more below or at that Happy About page discussing the book.

  • Written by Hung Q. Nguyen, Michael Hackett, and Brent K. Whitlock

Chapter 7: Conclusion
In this book, we described software testing and the top pitfalls of manual software testing, test automation, and outsourcing/offshoring of software testing. We have also described some actions that you can take to improve each of these areas. Driving toward the solution, we presented the Global Test Automation strategy that integrates manual software testing, test automation, and global resource strategies to maximize the benefits of software testing while minimizing the costs. We also elaborated on its benefits.
We would like to leave you with a list of the top ten executive takeaways from this book.

The Top 10 Executive Takeaways:

  1. An executive view of software testing and QA will increase revenue and decrease cost.
  2. Quality engineering and testing strategy starts from the top.
  3. You must budget and adequately fund testing and QA as a separate line item.
  4. You need to create visibility into the process.
  5. Metrics for visibility are not rocket science, but they need to be established quantitatively and qualitatively.
  6. Recognize that manual testing is unavoidable, but that you need to encourage automation when and wherever possible while applying the Automation 5% Rule.
  7. Although automation solves the speed problem, it's not a silver bullet.
  8. Global software test automation can save money and time and also provide around-the-clock productivity.
  9. Plan first, execute second—the Global Test Automation strategy should come first. The strategy then integrates automated testing programs and global testing resources.
  10. Be critical on staffing—don’t settle for second-class quality and testing staff, and don’t treat them as second class.

In the rest of this chapter, we elaborate on these takeaways.

Takeaway #1 — An executive view of software testing and QA will increase revenue and decrease cost.
The ultimate benefits of effective software testing are increasing your revenue and decreasing your expenses. Both of these benefits directly improve your company’s profitability. Some of the key internal values that drive this are the following:

  • Confidence in the consistency and dependability in quality through the visibility into the quality level of the product under development throughout the development lifecycle
  • More time on development, less time on maintenance
  • Effective utilization of resources and budget due to on-time delivery
  • More can be done if it can be done cheaper
  • More can be done and delivered faster if can be done faster
  • No surprises

With an effective test and QA strategy, you can gain confidence in your software products on a number of fronts. You can be confident that your software is of a consistent quality with each release, and that your customers can depend on its level of quality. This is achieved through visibility into the quality level of your company’s products under development throughout the development lifecycle. Visibility is a key benefit of an effective test and QA strategy, and it directly enables you to be confident in your products.

When your test and QA strategy are effective, your team can spend more time on development and less time on maintenance. This is because bugs are either avoided or found early in the process so that isolating and fixing them are not onerous tasks. The later in the process that bugs are found, the more work is required to correct them and maintain your customers’ loyalty. The more time your development staff spends fixing bugs and addressing short-term workarounds for the customers that are hitting the bugs, the less time they have to spend on developing new features to make you more competitive and profitable.

Effective test and QA strategies also enable an effective utilization of your resources and budget. They enable an on-time delivery of your products, and therefore avoid cost and schedule overruns. When you can complete the new product development project on budget and on time, you can avoid problems associated with needing additional resources beyond the project plan to complete the project.

Effective test and QA strategies enable you to do more to make you more competitive and increase your revenue. They do this by enabling your company to save money on new development projects. These savings can then be invested right back into your company to enable you to do more. Also, the time savings can be utilized for other projects that will also make you more competitive and increase your revenue.

Finally, when your test and QA strategy are effective, you won’t have surprises. You won’t hear about your customer finding bugs at critical times needing fast fixes and workarounds. You won’t be woken up first thing in the morning on your first day of a badly needed vacation with a crisis from the office due to a major customer finding a critical bug. No surprises is a good thing, and can help you to get a better night’s sleep.

Takeaway #2 — Quality engineering and testing strategy starts from the top.
Initiatives for improvements in quality engineering and testing strategies have to start from the top. The executive team must have a solid understanding of the quality cost concept. In addition, they must understand their own organization’s quality cost model including the data associated with it. The executive team must also understand that testing and QA are not synonymous. The executive that heads up the quality engineering efforts should be fully educated in the intricacies of the organization and testing activities, and must be fully accountable for the quality of the delivered product as well as educating the executive team in these matters.

If the executive team isn’t driving the quality initiatives towards improvement, they may actually be hindering it. A highly skilled and knowledgeable development and test team may be prevented from reaching their full quality potential due to misguided management decisions that lack a focus on quality.

Takeaway #3 — You must budget and adequately fund testing and QA as a separate line item.
Testing and quality assurance are interrelated with development, but are actually different disciplines that require a different focus and a level of independence from one another. They should have separate budgets so that the test and QA functions aren’t squeezed by cost overruns in development to the point that they cannot adequately perform their function. The way they operate and the short-term and long-term business impacts of their output are also sufficiently different that their ROI is measured differently.

By analogy, consider the roles of sales and marketing. These are often spoken together in a single phrase as if they are part of the same organization and function. But, we know that they are separate functions with separate disciplines and a separate focus. They are generally given separate budgets. Likewise, research is also different than product development, and is generally given a separate budget. To be effective and provide improvements in quality, testing and QA must have its own budget separate from product development.

Takeaway #4 — You need to create visibility into the process.
With the visibility that a well-run test organization provides to management, you won’t have surprises. This will give you confidence in the product and service that you deliver to your customers. Software testing and quality engineering are still immature disciplines that have not been studied as extensively as they should be. This makes visibility all the more important for you to maintain confidence. You need to capture the data you need regarding your product’s quality and associated development and test activities so that you can understand where you are and set appropriate goals for where you want to go.

Takeaway #5 — Metrics for visibility are not rocket science, but they need to be established quantitatively and qualitatively.
Measurability is the key to visibility. The challenge is to know that what you are measuring is valid and useful, and having confidence in the integrity of the data. By and large, the testing discipline lacks an effective bookkeeping infrastructure. Management of quality engineering and testing should be metrics-driven. The numbers obtained from appropriate, valid, and trustworthy measurements should drive quality improvement initiatives. A valid metrics model is critical to the success of these efforts.

Takeaway #6 — Recognize that manual testing is unavoidable, but that you need to encourage automation when and wherever possible while applying the Automation 5% Rule.
Even when you have a good test automation program in place, you still need to do some manual testing. The usability testing, for example, requires human involvement. However, manual testing is not the solution for short-cycle, high-volume test challenges. A powerful test automation strategy is required for these applications. For these applications, manual testing has the following drawbacks:

  • It is slow.
  • It is not scalable.
  • Although it is inexpensive to start up, it is expensive in the long run.

Takeaway #7 — Although automation solves the speed problem, it's not a silver bullet.
Automation solves the speed problems in a short-cycle and high-volume test environment. But automation does present some challenges and problems of its own. The key to success in automation is focusing your resources on test production rather than test automation. Focus on improving the quality and quantity of your tests, not on automating the tests. Apply the 5% rule:

  • No more than 5% of the tests are run manually.
  • No more than 5% of the test effort should involve automating the tests.

The most critical thing for a successful test automation program is the test methodology. No matter what tool you use, without a solid methodology in place, it won’t be effective. The tools you select should then support the implementation of your test methodology to help you succeed.

The benefits of a successful test automation strategy include the following:

  • Improve time-to-market.
  • Produce higher quality releases.
  • Improve predictability.
  • Improve Test/QA communication.
  • Double test coverage.
  • Halve testing costs.
  • Allow for early and frequent testing.
  • Reduce support and continued engineering costs.
  • Effective use of resources.
  • Improve customer confidence and adoption.

The drivers of these benefits are the following:

  • Visibility
  • Reusability
  • Scalability
  • Maintainability

An effective test strategy provides visibility into the quality of the software at an early stage, enabling effective management to improve the quality before the product reaches customers’ hands. Whereas an effective object-oriented software development methodology provides reusable software modules, an effective test automation methodology provides reusable test modules. This helps drive scalability, which enables automated tests to be scalable as the product and test requirements grow. It also helps drive maintainability. A change in the application that requires a change in the test modules will only require a change in a small number of reusable modules, and all the high-level tests utilizing these modules will receive the change for free. This is infinitely more maintainable than the situation in which each test is fully independent from other tests, and a change has to be made to every test that makes use of a changed element in the product individually.

Takeaway #8 — Global software test automation can save money and time and also provide around-the-clock productivity.
Outsourcing/offshoring provides a cost advantage due to lower labor rates, but these must be weighed taking other factors into account that add to the cost of outsourcing. These extra factors include communication and travel costs, training costs, and higher local management overhead, for example. The around-the-clock test production benefit requires a good working management process to be effective. These benefits require a serious commitment on the part of the local management and significant management oversight.

Takeaway #9 — Plan first, execute second—the Global Test Automation strategy should come first. The strategy then integrates automated testing programs and global testing resources.
The Global Test Automation strategy should come first. The methodology is the key to success. The tools then must be selected to support the methodology, and the global resources chosen to work with the methodology and tools. These three factors must be integrated to be successful. This is the key to the success of the Global Test Automation strategy—integrating methodology, tools, and global resources together synergistically.

Takeaway #10 — Be critical on staffing—don’t settle for second-class quality and testing staff, and don’t treat them as second class.
People are the key to any organization’s success. You want high-quality people on your test team, just like you want high-quality people on your development team and your management team. Don’t settle for second-class quality staff. Choosing staff with the appropriate skill sets and aptitudes for testing vs. development is an important aspect of this. Likewise, don’t treat your test staff as second class. The test team is critical for the release of quality products. Your company’s bottom line depends on that as much as it depends on the most innovative software from the development team. If you want to keep quality people on your test staff, they need to be treated as well as quality people on your development team. You need to get away from situations where test positions are seen as an entry level to development positions down the road, and therefore, in a lower class.

In practice, there is much more that can be said and much more technical detail that could be explored. We hope that this book has given you a fresh perspective on a strategy for integrating test methodologies, tools, and global resources to greatly improve your software products’ quality through effective testing.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter.

"Happy About Global Software Test Automation" contains a management discussion of the changing world of software testing. Testing problems are difficult, expensive, and hard to understand. Most software companies have bugs escape the testing cycles and reach customers. How can some of the inherent problems with software testing be eliminated? This book addresses this fundamental issue and helps the reader understand the high-level elements necessary to better execute software test automation and outsourcing initiatives. Pick up this book to get the answer. You can do so at Happy About, Amazon or other online and offline bookstores.

Best regards,

Mitchell Levy, Publisher & CEO, Happy About
Chief Strategy Office, The Value Framework Institute
publisher @ happyabout.info, 408-257-3000

Click to learn more about joint venturing and how do drive success with your venture

Happy About Global Software Test Automation: A Discussion of Software Testing for Executives

Although your team may know about test automation, have they ever executed efficiently to meet the goals of faster delivery, better quality, and saving money? If not, this book is a must read. After reading the 160 pages (125 for the eBook), you will be able to:

  1. Describe the need for software testing and the shortcomings of the current paradigms.
  2. Articulate the hidden costs and problems of offshoring the testing function.
  3. Identify the models that work and understand if they are worth incorporating into your company.
  4. Understand what you need to do to have it done "right

eBook: $11.95

Paperback: $19.95
Discounted to ($16.96)


Reviews of "Happy About Global Software Test Automation"

"Software is complex but I'm tired of finding bug after bug that a 5th grader wouldn't have turned in. Virtually every technical product these days includes a lot of software. It's a rare engineer that can write nearly perfect code. Methodical and thorough testing of software is the key to quality products that do what the user expects. Read this book to learn what you need to do!"
Steve Wozniak, Wheels of Zeus, CTO

"In theory, test automation is supposed to be a silver bullet to increase test coverage and improve quality; offshoring is supposed to drastically cut costs. In reality, many organizations struggle with both, and don't see significant gains despite extensive efforts. This book clearly presents the challenges of test automation and a practical way for organizations of any size to overcome them to realize significant time and cost savings in their software testing effort. Every executive responsible for development and testing of software should become familiar with these ideas!"
Bruce Martin, Vice President, Product Strategy, PSS Systems

"Offshoring by itself is not enough.This book provides you testing strategies to stay ahead of the competition and maximize your investment."
Robert S. Alvin, CEO and Chairman, Netline Corporation

"Despite continued advances in development techniques and technologies, software quality problems are as pervasive as ever. Software testing teams are under tremendous pressure to test more complex systems with the same or fewer resources, and corporate managers are always looking to shave costs by leveraging offshore testing. This book does a great job of highlighting the fundamental challenges of software testing today, and then presents a thoughtful solution for leveraging test automation and offshoring to meeting your organizations quality goals."
Adam Au, Vice President, Engineering, Centrify Corporation

"Automation isn't just about technical decisions. Finally, this book is the first that offers a practical business case for effective test automation."
Michael Hatam, President, Application Services, Moyo Group

"This is one of the must read books by software executives. It goes over the major concepts and best practices of software testing in an efficient and effective manner. At Sun, we already use some of the best practices described in this book and are planning to adopt the remaining best practices."
Satya Dodda, QA Director, J2EE App Server, Sun Micro Systems, Inc.


About the Authors

Hung Nguyen is CEO, President, and Founder of LogiGear and is responsible for the company's strategic direction and executive business management. He's been a leading innovator in software testing, test automation, testing tool solutions and testing education programs for the last two decades.

Mr. Nguyen is coauthor of the top-selling book in the software testing field, Testing Computer Software (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2002) and other publications including Testing Applications on the Web (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2003). His experience over the past two decades includes leadership roles in software development, quality, product and business management at Spinnaker, PowerUp, Electronic Arts, Palm Computing and other leading companies. A frequent speaker at industry events and a contributor to many industry publications, Nguyen also teaches software testing at LogiGear University, and at the University of California Berkeley Extension and Santa Cruz Extension in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.




Michael Hackett is co-founded LogiGear in 1994 and leads the company's LogiGear University training operations division, setting the standard in software testing education programs for many of the world's leading software development organizations. Mr. Hackett is coauthor of the popular Testing Applications on the Web (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2003), and has helped many clients produce, test and deploy applications ranging from business productivity to educational multimedia across multiple platforms and multiple language editions. His clients have included Palm Computing, Oracle, CNET, Electronics for Imaging, The Learning Company, and PC World.

Prior to co-founding LogiGear, Mr. Hackett managed QA teams at The Well, Adobe Systems, and PowerUp Software. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University.




Brent K. Whitlock is currently a Program Manager at Digidesign, a division of Avid Technology, Inc. Prior to this, he was Director of Optical Systems Research and Business Development at RSoft Design Group, Inc., where he initiated and led the development and commercialization of several optical communication system simulation software packages including LinkSIM, ModeSYS, and OptSim 4, which won the Lightwave OFC/NFOEC 2005 Attendees Choice Award. He has also secured and served as Principal Investigator on federally funded SBIR, STTR, and NIST ATP research contracts.

Dr. Whitlock earned his BS, MS, and PhD all in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Whitlock has co-authored over 30 technical papers and articles. He is a Sr. Member of the IEEE and Chair of the Santa Clara Valley chapter of IEEE LEOS.


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