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QASymphony product offers test analytics for the first time

Testers have a tough job. QASymphony's soon-to-launch qTest Insights version 2.0 will include an analytics hub that may make life easier.

Must. Test. Faster.

It's the tester's mantra today, but it's far easier said than done. With the relentless pressure to release more applications in a shorter period of time, testers are left to try to figure out how to streamline an inherently complex and detailed process.

But a solution might be on its way. QASymphony will introduce a demo version of qTest Insights next month that will include -- for the first time -- an analytics hub at its core. The new product will offer true test analytics. By pulling data from JIRA, Rally and other Agile platforms about manual, exploratory and automated tests, it will be simple to see how the code -- and the people involved in testing the code -- behave. "This is basically bringing BI [business intelligence] to the testing world," said Jonathan Alexander, the new CTO for QASymphony, based in Atlanta. "This is a BI tool that can be used by the test team, the dev team or the dev [and] test management team," with a goal of improving process and, ultimately, performance across the board.

For testers, often the last to know and always the last stand against defects, test analytics could be a significant change, and an opportunity to see what works and doesn't in their process. Testing consultant Matthew Heusser of Excelon said he thinks the qTest idea is intriguing. "Few companies do any data mining in a disciplined way on their process for improvement," Heusser said. "The few times I have done disciplined bug analysis, just with bug trackers, we have saved significant cost [and] effort."

Editor's note: Heusser's company does some consulting for QASymphony, but he was unaware of this product until contacted by TechTarget.

This move toward test analytics comes at a time when other segments of the application development market are also trying to make sense of the data available to them. Business information-esque portals are starting to be seen in application performance management tools, and are often augmented by artificial intelligence to help make sense of the reams of data.

For QASymphony's Alexander, the concept was on his mind long before he joined the company. Author of the book Codermetrics in 2011, Alexander said in his days of managing development and test teams, it was clear that detailed feedback can make a great difference to a team's performance. "Part of the challenge is we have data -- a lot of data in our source control system, a lot in our Agile tracking system, a lot in our bug tracking system, plus whatever we're using for dev planning and test planning," he said. "Put that together with a lot of behavioral data, and that's the basis of what we're trying to do. People talk about doing it, but they don't have any easy way to put that data together. Now, they will."

Future versions will actually be able to reach into GitHub and other repositories to track postings, closed tickets, questions and more, Alexander said. "As this idea gets fleshed out over time, and I believe it will, you would have more objective data about your software engineers and testers, and that would go back to more objective analysis about how people are doing. You can go from a quality or productivity perspective, and turn it into a discussion about performance. Right now, only very few companies have the time, resources and skills to do this. We want to bring this kind of information back to the people."

QTest Insights version 2.0 with test analytics is expected to be in beta test by the end of the fourth quarter.

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