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Why won't companies invest in software testing resources?

Software testing is hard enough, but without adequate and appropriate equipment, it's unrealistic to expect accurate results. Expert Amy Reichert explains why QA needs more support.

Why do some software companies find it so difficult to invest in software testing resources, whether it's equipment or personnel? Granted, I'm not talking about software being produced where regulations or government contracts are involved (at least, I assume not). But I am talking about more mainstream areas such as electronic health records, advertising and data analysis tools, or even payroll, tax and other financial items within business software. In my experience, these types of software vendors invest the bare minimum possible in QA. Why is that?

Many of these software companies pledge allegiance to "quality" loudly in every marketing campaign, advertisement and slogan. In my experience, few actually put quality first. It's a great word for a marketing campaign, but too often, that is all it is.

Do companies not invest in software testing resources because quality doesn't generate income directly? Businesses simply cannot produce quality software when they are in a fast and furious mode in order to survive or thrive. I understand the business needs income, and I understand happy customers continue to generate income. So, where do we draw the line between the business' need for income and the customers' need to receive quality software?

Here's where I draw it. I understand the need for speed, so give QA a hardware system that represents what customers use. Don't give QA barely functional servers and mismatched databases duct taped together and then be surprised when defects escape testing. If you give QA a minimally working system that isn't the same as a customer would set up, you will not get accurate test results. All the QA talent in the world cannot circumvent a bad hardware system.

I don't expect companies to spend millions on a QA system, it's simply not realistic. However, it's critical to the software application and its users that the QA system matches customer reality as closely as possible. The closer the QA system matches production, the more accurate and useful QA testing you receive. The hardware platform and the database on the QA system must match production. Keep versions updated on both systems so QA is always testing on the latest production version. Use virtual machine systems to test older version combinations and various production configurations.

QA testing results and software quality are directly impacted by the quality of the test system and how closely it matches production. Keep the system performance similar, so performance-related issues are visible to QA. In other words, you get what you give. Invest in software testing resources, give QA a quality system, and you'll get more accurate testing and higher-quality results.

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