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What tool fits best - Standard or Tailored?


It is back to business after the quiet of the holiday season and the cold weather and the flu are making it increasingly difficult to manage schedules. During the holidays, I was reminiscing on some of the interesting conversations with client organizations through the past year and a few of those are still fresh in my mind. Here's one interesting question that has come up time and again and something I myself have been grappling with as well.


"Which is better - a single tool (or toolset from a single vendor) that addresses most of your testing needs or specialized tools that completely meet each of the varied needs of testing?"



Several folks, I have spoken to, have gone for a diverse set of tools - each meeting the needs in its area of testing completely or pretty close to that. However, there are others who look at this from an enterprise wide and long term perspective, and talk about the challenge of integrating these diverse tools and maintaining the integration through the changes over time (tool upgrades, app changes).


I find merit in both these arguments and I am taking a middle position on this. I would like to suggest the following parameters to consider while making that decision.


·         Extent of Usage (How much are you planning to use the tool?): The testing tools landscape has changed significantly over the years and there are lots of niche tools with capabilities that go deeper than broader - so you might as well take advantage of these deep capabilities in your testing. I would recommend this especially if the usage of this tool is going to be widespread across your testing teams (as a thumb rule, say >50%)


·         Long term viability (How long are you going to use the tool?): You may want to look beyond the short term and see if the tool vendor has a long term roadmap and organizational capabilities to execute that roadmap. In other words, would you get adequate support from the product vendor going forward?


·         Technical Integration Capabilities (What are you going to use the tool with?): This is critical to the enterprise as it could be a management nightmare if integration between the tools is not seamless. For example, if your automation tool does not integrate with your Test Management tool and your defect management tool, a significant portion of your automation benefits will be eaten up by the manual task of integrating these.


·         Team skills (Who is going to maintain the tool?): This is often overlooked by most clients that I work with, especially since the product vendors have perfected the art of making clients believe that testing tool implementations are as easy as falling off a log and that their product support teams can support any future changes. I have found this aspect quite challenging - and my take is that you can go for a diverse tool set with several integration points ONLY if you have a dedicated (and centralized) team of tools specialists who can maintain the integrated toolset.


So here ends my 2 cents on the topic of finding the best fit testing tool and I am eager to hear what others think of the question.

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