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Two experts: Why not to skip some software testing phases

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Is software testing really necessary? Do we do it just because everyone else does it? Why is software testing important? While ideas about testing vary, the motive is generally the same: someone believes it has value. We test because someone wants us to test. They may be managers, developers, business executives, regulators, or even customers. But how do testers know if they are doing the right thing or if something is lacking?

I explored these ideas recently in interviews with Neha Thakur, a business technology analyst at Deloitte Consulting, India, and Edgardo Greising, manager of the Performance Testing Laboratory for Centro de Ensayos de Software in Uruguay. Both are speakers at next week’s Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST).

Thakur will be exploring this topic in her upcoming talk, “Software Testing – To Be or Not To Be.” She is keenly interested in talking with her peers about identifying and serving testing stakeholders. In her own work, she’s discovered the advantages of identifying and involving stakeholders, and she’ll share methods for stakeholder analysis, gaining stakeholder involvement and making sure stakeholders’ needs are being met by the development team.

Thakur has performed automation testing in a variety of contexts, ranging from medical electronics, to storage and networking, to risk and compliance.

“I have always been curious to know and learn about the various aspects of software testing: the prevalent models, technology, tools etc. This curiosity to learn new things helped me go deep in various management topics and to develop a better understanding of the various stakeholders at each level that might impact the project. It also allows me to be proactive in communicating the risks, issues, and information with the respective stakeholders. I think testing is on an evolutionary path and there are still axioms of test management which need to be improvised.”

“Stakeholders believe in facts and figures; they believe in action and not words merely stated. Thus a subjective way of thinking while testing might not be the correct way of approaching an issue. Thinking objectively always helps. [You need] data, facts, and figures to support [your testing].”

Approaching the problem from another angle, Edgardo Greising plans to look why it can be difficult getting some IT managers to see the value in doing performance testing. According to Greising, this needs to change. In his upcoming CAST talk — titled “Helping Managers To Make Up Their Minds: The ROI of Performance Testing” — Greising plans to explore the risks and costs associated with performance testing.

“I will be talking about the return on investment of a performance test. From my experience, many managers refuse to do performance testing because they think there is a high cost. I always try to illustrate that the cost of not doing performance testing is higher.

Our commercial people have to fight against the cost-myth each time they are visiting potential clients. And, on the other hand, we know that a performance test gives us a lot of information to tune the system and help us avoid system downtime. The objective, then, is to put those things together and show the convenience of performance testing.”

During my interview with Greising, he talked about the ways software performance testing yields great improvements in application health. For one thing, performance testing leads to reducing resources consumed and lowering response times, he said. “With most projects, we are unable to support half the volume expected in production until the tests shows us where the bottlenecks are so we can fix them.”

Unfortunately, Greisling said, performance testing is rarely found as a regular activity in a systems development or migration project. Then, when application deployment approaches at high velocity, nobody has time for even think about it.

Greising is no stranger to keeping cost in mind when testing. He worked as a salesman and pre-sales engineer for 15 years. For him, balancing cost and risk are just a regular part of testing. To talk about cost justification, you need to talk about risk,he said.

For more on the upcoming show, check out the CAST conference website.