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August 7, 2010

What is the future of the testing function?

This is a question that gets asked by most executives looking to establish independent testing as a function/department on an on-going basis, or by those purists who believe in creation rather than correction. But, this is a question that all testing professionals need to ask themselves.

This question can be tackled in many ways. Here's my perspective -

First - Software testing is here to stay for next several years
Second - I do believe that several large software development centers will mature in this process and package softwares will address majority requirements in coming years. Software testing will increasingly fall in-line with development/configuration, along with increased levels of instrumentation (automation), just like we have in automobile assembly lines.

There are several steps being taken by organizations. All testing functions need to be setup keeping this long term goal in mind.

As testing professionals we need to contribute towards accelerating this change. Simply because, those that work towards developing solutions that can remove the need for independent testing will do well for themselves in the long run. It's about accepting the future of testing and keeping pace with it rather than wishing it away. 

Assisted User Acceptance Testing

This is my second topic on Testing Organization Improvement Series. This topic is about assisted user acceptance testing.

Industry faces multiple challenges in User Acceptance Testing. Few of them include

1. Subject Matter Experts find it difficult to spare time for User Acceptance Testing
2. Lack of coordination between development, QA (FAT ) and business users resulting in rework during UAT
3. Quality and Quantity of test to be conducted by UAT team is subjective
4. Business users Lack advanced testing skills effecting quality and cost of UAT
5. FAT and UAT happens in parallel resulting in duplication
6. Considerable effort spent by the UAT team for Test data setup and Test environment validation
7. Ramping the team up and down is a challenge due to domain competency needs

Resulting Impact: Increased UAT cost, defect slippage into production and increased UAT cycle time.

In order to address these challenges, there is a need to revisit organizational UAT objectives and goals


Even though multiple strategies needs to be adopted to address these challenges and acheive the stated goals, Introduction of UAT extended team to assist business users will help in addressing most of these challenges and acheive the desired goals. The extended team will be professional testers reporting in the UAT leadership. Roles and responsibilites b/w business users and the extend team should be clearly defined. 80% of the activities will be carried out by the extended team and the business users will perform review activities to ensure right test cases are selected and test results are captured as per business needs. The extended team will bring all the testing skill set and business users will augment with domain skill needs. This will help in adopting all testing best practices and also meet UAT objectives. This will also significantly reduce the business user bandwidth requirement. The extended UAT team setup will also promote the close coordination between development, Business users  and QA teams which will reduce the overall testing effort.