Any software tester should sometimes stop to consider one important element that must also be considered. All those involved in a software development project should recognise that software underpins almost every business process. Everything from how an organization communicates internally and externally, to how it delivers products and services, to how it manages administrative processes.
Software can liberate or weaken an organization’s efficiency, effectiveness, exposure to risk, risk and ultimately profitability. So it’s not something that a test manager can do alone, in a team you have to work together. This will ensure that in the increasingly complex world of software development, we as a team understand exactly what the client needs and can ensure that we deliver it. Implementing a project is not difficult; it is simply bringing together professionals in their field to achieve a common goal.
The Benefits of Cross-Functional Collaboration
If that team works together then, for example, how much can a developer learn from a business analyst if they talk about how the system should actually work, or where it always doesn’t.
Success criteria are the goals that are the starting point for information; and may be different for each different level in the project, for example: Success for a Test Manager may be that there is an agreed risk based approach to testing established at the outset of the project, and all high priority test cases are agreed up front and are completed during test execution, but let’s think about that.
So to be successful a Test Manager needs to have a prioritized list of test cases, which they ensure are completed during test execution.
The Need for Efficient Testing Processes
This is an altogether too familiar success criterion today but maybe one that doesn’t help point B above, maybe a better success criteria could be: Test activity defined as reducing the amount of test execution to one week. It’s a tall order but if the team works together and identifies up front where things may go wrong and stop them occurring. Then check it, raise a bug report and pay a lot of money to have it repaired? Or would you do something as soon as possible to stop it falling and keep the cost, time and quality at the right levels?
Translating that into a project, if we know the objectives of a project manager include time, cost and quality we need to find ways of preventing rather than detecting issues as this is the most economical approach to delivery, and to meet all three objectives. But if you have any doubts about trying to test the software yourself or even determine what tests are needed, you should not pass by outsourcing QA companies. There are many certified QA engineers who are ready to help you with your project from the initial development stage to entering the global market and scaling the project.
Test managers and project managers must also reflect progress towards achieving these criteria. But we shouldn’t forget that throughout the lifecycle of a project these will change as each new issue and risk is resolved, and so by necessity, must the information provision.
Software Delivery Project Management: An Orchestra of Collaboration and Communication
Teamwork is absolutely key to achieving project delivery in the future, and ensuring software testing continues to deliver value. Sadly this is something that gets very little daylight in IT. Companies ensure all of their people are technically competent but they don’t really consider that management needs to be taught how to manage people and how to build working teams. Good developers are promoted and asked to manage people, and it’s the same in testing. How many testers ever get sent on a project management course to learn the basic project management processes?
Let’s say a software delivery project is much like an orchestra, if each part works together in harmony it can be beautiful, but if only one element veers off course or works on their own the result will be disastrous. The team needs to work harmoniously so that the software delivery orchestra works, and delivers beautiful results.
So now let’s go back to the beginning. Good information provision comes from being part of a team who communicate regularly and fully understand the progress through the different lifecycle testing stages, all the way through to the live environment.
So what questions should a professional team that deals with testing client projects come to:
- What do we need to measure and does the information and importance of the information change during the lifecycle of the project
- We must still capture the number of test cases, tests run, tests passed/failed, but need to identify how to translate this information for the different audiences we have
- We need to capture ‘quality requirements’ and therefore identify how to measure meeting them. They must be clearly and concisely defined, easily understood, not ambiguous and easily demonstrated
- Testers must encourage the breakdown of the silos. Why not work within the development team and help them test?
No one can define today what the future of testing is but by learning to communicate more effectively and by becoming an integrated element of the project, we may believe the successful future of testing is assured.