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Software Testing Resolutions for 2012

It’s always amazing how every year the month of January sparks the desire in many people to reflect on past promises, challenges and successes. Once the moment has gone, a sense of clarity and a surge of determination takes root, and a new list of promises kick-starts a change and a passion to do well for the new year ahead.

Although this helps set about many good changes, trying to stick to these promises can sometimes prove quite a challenge!  How many of you can relate to the the goal of, “I shall join the gym and get fit and healthy”? Unfortunately for some, by February this ambitious goal is broken and by March the very idea of keeping it is mere wishful thinking!

Although harmless if broken, what would happen if the promises you made effect your business? What if your company was sold promises such as:

  • Provide a code-free testing tool for QA.
  • Offer good customer support.
  • Ease the burden of application testing.

Now imagine what would happen if these promises were broken! The impact to your business would be quite damaging.

As a software vendor in the Application Quality Management space, we prefer to keep the promises we make to our customers. So on that note, Original Software would like to lay down a few promises this year that the testing community should also consider following.

2012 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. I will focus on testing rather than scripting – why should a tester require programming skills. We believe that empowering your subject matter experts to define and execute sophisticated tests without the need to use any kind of code is the kind of promise that is worth keeping. So we promise to continue innovating our code-free solution in order to remove the burden of code-based script maintenance.
  2. I will stop being the drag on Agile development teams – traditional test tools struggle to work in an Agile environment. This is mainly due to the fact that they were designed to work in a ‘test last’ environment whereas the agile model is more a ‘test first, test continuously’ model. Our promise is to support the Agile community with a solution that will provide a dynamic and efficient testing solution for your Agile projects.
  3. I will not forget about the test data – regulatory compliance and data protection laws continue to have an ever greater impact upon the ways that companies do business. We want to make testing on live data a thing of the past and help you create subsets of data that retain their referential integrity, and provide a perfect miniature copy of your live environment.
  4. I will stop insisting that BAs and end users should test manually – the UAT phase of your application delivery requires business process expertise in order to check that the application meets business expectations. This means relying on business users to test the new or upgraded system. We promise to supply a solution that is able to capture the business process knowledge from the lines of business.
  5. I will stop pretending I can run a professional quality organisation on spread sheets and scraps of paper – it’s amazing how many companies still reply on spreadsheets and paper to manage the QA process. We promise to show you a way that enables you to unite all aspects of your quality lifecycle, across all stakeholders, from one central point.

If you have any Software Testing Resolutions for 2012 that you would like to share, we would love to hear them! Please feel free to comment back or tweet your resolution to @Origsoft.


Customers Get Quality-Centric VIP Treatment

Original Software’s robust approach to software quality helps Vermont Information Processing reduce release bottlenecks and improve customer support forecasting

Vermont Information Processing (VIP), IT solutions supplier to the beverage wholesale industry, has utilized Original Software’s end-to-end testing solution to increase its software quality. Even with an intensely accelerated development schedule, VIP has improved its customer upgrade experience and reduced pressure on its support team. This in turn has enabled the business to respond effectively to the complex requirements of its customers during volatile market conditions.

A period of market consolidation had caused significant growing pains for VIP. As its customers’ operations increased in complexity, the software that they relied on to manage their business needed to be able to handle much more complicated processes. VIP’s old development cycle just didn’t fit this new development schedule. Putting out new releases became painful, not just for customers and its development team, but the support team was also beginning to feel the repercussions.

With the help of Original Software, VIP was able to develop a much more robust approach to software quality. The company has completely turned around its QA process and overcome its customers’ cautious attitudes to upgrades. VIP has now transformed into a software testing center of excellence with happy customers who are keen to upgrade to new releases.

Since implementation, VIP’s QA department has increased the scope of test coverage, taking control its test environments, comprehensively unit testing and running full regression tests on all system updates. Previously customers went on average three years before updating systems, creating a bottleneck in the upgrade process, now 97% are running a recent version of the software. The team has also vastly reduced the strain on support. Fixing a single bug could save support around 80 hours; it takes a lot less time to run the regression suite now, which on average turns up 10-12 similar bugs. This equates to five and a half months of support time per release!

VIP moved from having one major update release every three years to producing major releases once a year, with numerous maintenance builds in-between. The old eight month-long beta testing phase was too time consuming for the business with its new rapid development schedule and it could no longer afford to do this. With the crunching development cycle, quality was becoming an issue for VIP. “Our customers were really frustrated with us,” explained Bobby Erwin, Quality Control Analyst at VIP. “To get a new feature, they’d also get all these other problems to boot. This would become a strain on the support team too, as they’d spend hours on the phone going through problems.”

“Our main business drivers were to reduce the level of risk by increasing the scope of test coverage. Original Software was the ideal choice” said Erwin.

VIP purchased the solutions from Original Software in May 2007 and once they’d had the initial training it took two or three months to develop their first regression capabilities. They’ve been developing and building on these tests ever since. “Prior to this we conducted no regression testing at all – just a month or so of acceptance testing by customer service and then the beta tests. Now we have a battery of tests we perform every time we release,” imparted Erwin.

“We are providing a much more robust and better product to the end users,” said Bobby Erwin. “Our support and customer service teams are delighted. Our builds are just so much better now, and we can also tell them exactly how risky a release is, and predict the levels of support that might be needed.”

“The regression tests help us manage our exposure: improving experience for the customer, decreasing support needs for a given update. Testing gives us a feel for how stable the build is. It’s a known entity. If the build looks good in testing, we can install with greater confidence. If we find problems, we get a better idea of the support resources needed,” confirmed Chris Boucher, Support Manager at VIP.

To read the full customer case study, please visit: http://www.origsoft.com/customer-stories/vip


Get a Grip of Your Test Data

What data do you use for your test environments? Production, generated, subsetted, masked? So many different approaches, but which way works best for you?

If test data is a topic close to your heart, you might be interested in a free webinar that we are running – ‘Get a Grip of Your Test Data’

It’s not too late to register for our third webinar in this very popular series on software testing and quality assurance.

“Get a Grip of Your Test Data” by Tim Bower will help you to put together a business case for ensuring the importance of having accurate application data for development and testing.

As you know, effective management of data is a critical component in ensuring that your test strategy delivers quality applications. But in meeting this challenge, are you protecting sensitive personal and financial data reducing the amount of storage space required for this data?

Listen in and learn:

• Practical steps for building an accurate test environment efficiently and legally
• How to ensure test data privacy within your test environment
• How you can manage and verify the database effects of your test execution

Join us for this webinar and learn more about the different strategies and techniques that can be used to support your test environment and improve the software quality within all your projects.

Register today at: http://www.origsoft.com/webinars/


St. Valentines Data Massacre

On the 81st anniversary of the legendary US gangster slaying in Lincoln Park, Chicago, it is perhaps appropriate to use the title of the massacre as an analogy to describe two of the most dangerous, but widespread practices currently taking place within QA and testing departments around the globe.

Illegally testing on live data and ignoring database accuracy!

The simple fact is this: Carrying out testing on live data without the consent of the individual whose data is being processed is illegal.

So, what can be done? Is there a way for QA staff to carry on testing with live data without leaving themselves and their organisation at risk? In short, can this ‘data massacre’ be eliminated?

Yes it can. With a clear Test Data Management (TDM) strategy in place you can ensure that you will dodge those data protection bullets, as well as being happy in the knowledge that your entire testing process is underpinned by good quality, legal test data.

Read our whitepaper the “St. Valentine’s Data Massacre” to discover in detail how using techniques such as data scrambling, roll backs and manipulation can ensure your test data isn’t compromised.

Visit The “St. Valentines Data Massacre” page in our whitepapers section to get your copy now!


NEWS: Original Software Positioned as a Visionary in Magic Quadrant for Integrated Software Quality Suites

Original Software, the Application Quality Management (AQM) vendor, today announced that it has been placed in the ‘visionaries’ quadrant by leading analyst firm Gartner, Inc. in its recently published Magic Quadrant for Integrated Software Quality Suites, 31 July 2009.

“The total market for test management and functional and load/stress automation is currently valued at just under $1.2 billion, and is growing at more than 8% per year.” said Thomas Murphy in the report1. “Testing software can be an expensive process, but poor software quality leads to user dissatisfaction, as well as increased development and maintenance. Therefore, having a well-defined set of tools and practices to drive software quality will positively affect the overall business bottom line.”

The report evaluates fourteen vendors of software quality solutions based on a rigorous set of criteria that comprise ‘completeness of vision’ and ‘ability to execute’. Original Software has been positioned as a visionary.

Colin Armitage, CEO of Original Software, said: “We consider our positioning in the visionaries quadrant to be confirmation of the real value that our approach to solving challenges in the quality process has brought to our users, extending the reach of these solutions within an organization and providing an early return on investment. We are now expanding on the unique work we have done, in reducing script maintenance, supporting manual testing, code-free automation and test data management, with the launch of a radical new ALM solution later this year.”

This report has recently been published by Gartner. More information can be found on the analyst page of Original Software’s website.


NEWS: Original Software offers ‘Escape’ for apprehensive Borland and Compuware customers

Original Software, the Application Quality Management (AQM) vendor, today announced a swap-out promotion for customers of the soon to be engulfed companies, who face uncertainty in the future of their legacy product roadmaps.

Original Software offers market-leading AQM solutions that span the application development life-cycle from requirements, planning and management to complete automated regression testing, including unique solutions for manual testing and test data management.

“Colin Armitage, CEO of Original Software, said: “Any customer on a current maintenance contract with Borland or Compuware can qualify for the Escape program and swap to one of our comparable solutions, provided they switch the maintenance agreement.” The promotion, which runs until the end of the year, includes preferential pricing on all the company’s other complimentary solutions.

“While MicroFocus has now completed the acquisitions of Borland and Compuware, the future for their customers is far from clear. It is inevitable that one of the solutions will take precedence, leaving the other customer base facing an unpleasant choice. You have to feel special sympathy for the users of the Borland testing products for who this is the second change of ownership in less than three years.”

“The great thing about the Escape program is that companies can remove the uncertainty about products futures and join a company whose vision has been widely recognized by industry analysts like Gartner and Ovum. At the same time they can benefit from great customer service and a modern AQM solution suite that addresses traditional automation and the now widely recognized needs for collaboration, manual test support and test data management”.


Spreading a little love – some Valentines Day themed goodies for you

Valentine’s Day activities for geeks
Great story on ComputerWorld today – http://www.computerworlduk.com/management/careers-hr/my-career/news-analysis/index.cfm?articleId=2066&email – includes ideas such as technology-related films to watch with your loved one onValentines, twitter love hunt events and more…

Seven reasons to love a developer on Valentine’s Day
Adrian Bridgewater’s blog on ZD Net had me chuckling this morning – I often see that deep concentration akin to the ear-crumb incident he describes…
http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10012138o-2000458459b,00.htm
and finally….

The St. Valentine’s Day Data Massacre
by George Wilson, Operations Director of Original Software

On the 60th anniversary of the legendary US gangster slaying in Lincoln Park, Chicago, it is perhaps appropriate to use the title of the massacre as an analogy to describe one of the most dangerous but widespread issues currently taking place in QA and testing departments around the globe.

Testing on live data.

Industry estimates suggest that approximately 70% of IT departments admit to using live data during their application testing process. One can understand why. It makes the testing more pragmatic, gives a clearer indication of true quality and allows the application in question to be tested more thoroughly. The problem is that this can expose sensitive data to less than sensitive employees or contractors.

The acquisition of data for testing may breach the Information Security safeguards of your live system which could result in fraud, malicious damage or even legal action if confidentiality is lost.

The simple fact is this: Carrying out testing on live data without the consent of the individual whose data is being processed is illegal.

“But it can’t be. And anyway, we have security procedures in place”. Regrettably that is the attitude of many hard pressed CIOs today. Organizations demand on time delivery of tested software, and live data tends to reveal more ‘real world’ errors or so CIOs have always believed.
But that doesn’t make it legal.

Starting with the stringent Data Protection regulations in the European Community, and spreading worldwide, the law says, very clearly, that the individual whose data record is being used must know the purpose of the processing.

Common sense and good practice say that exposing traceable production data to test disciplines is risky. Despite legal requirements and in some cases severe penalties for breaking them, testing on live data still tends to be common practice. One survey showed 62 percent of companies were using live customer data to test applications and 49 percent shared this data with outsourced testers, with no way of knowing if it was ever compromised*

So, what can be done? Is there a way for QA staff to carry on testing with live data without leaving themselves and their organization at risk? In short, can this ‘data massacre’ be eliminated?

Of course it can. With a clear Test Data Management (TDM) strategy in place you can ensure that you will dodge those data protection bullets, as well as being happy in the knowledge that your entire testing process is underpinned by good quality, legal test data.

Test Data Management is fundamental to the success of your test strategy; after all, data drives the entire testing procedure. With bad data comes poor testing, results you cannot trust, and a whole lot of wasted time, money and effort, and maybe even the odd legal dispute. It pays to get data management right.

Effective test data creation will address issues of disk space, data verification, data confidentiality and protracted test durations. Control of test data ensures that every test starts with a consistent data state, essential in maintaining your data in a predictable state at the end of the test. Checking both visible test results and the database effects is a key principle of Total Testing, a task which is practically impossible to do manually.

This philosophy enables a true regression testing capability to be built and automated, without the need for complex algorithms and checks to make allowances for changing data.

Intelligent data extraction functionality dramatically simplifies the process of creating and extracting data subsets from your live database – with great efficiency and full referential integrity with no program complications. With total control to amend data during extraction, and the ability to extract data from remote sources, data maintenance becomes simple and efficient. Data integrity, for any purpose, is assured.

For more information on Test Data Management, and how Original Software can help you avoid any test data massacres, log on to www.origsoft.com

* The Insecurity of Test Data: The Unseen Crisis, – a Compuware / Ponemon Institute study


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