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FROM THE TRENTCHES
QA and Testing: A Ying- Yang approach to increase business value
Throughout the year, we have been paying attention to how companies redefine their IT strategies. Based on what we’ve read from leading market analysts and our own client experiences, we see a growing trend of basing the efforts in strategies that can provide value to the business and improve competitiveness, such as:
The first questions that came to my mind, now thinking in terms of what it means to Testing and Quality Assurance (QA) were: How do those strategies relate to testing? How does testing contribute to those strategies? How does testing add value to the business? How can testing increase the value throughout the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)?
I then realized those questions can’t be answered solely in terms of what most of us have been doing in the testing arena. It is imperative to think outside of the box with an integral approach that really provides value to those strategies. The trends shout for a change in mindset and thinking in terms of a Software Quality approach based on an integrated Quality Assurance and Testing frameworks.
These two practices are sometimes perceived as alternative activities and, in other instances, the terms are used interchangeably as if they were exactly the same. These views get in the way of creating true business value. While Quality Assurance focuses on the process, Testing focuses on the product. But both practices have the same ultimate goal, which is assuring the quality of the software products satisfy the customer needs.
No one practice is better than the other; instead they are both necessary and complementary, which means an integrated approach might be the best fit to increase value.
In search for a symbol/graphic to represent this line of thinking, I came across the Yin and Yang concept. It refers to how two forces or energies are deeply interconnected, with Yin making allusion to the feminine or passive energy, and Yang describing the masculine or active energies. They are both essential pieces and a balance between the forces is highly desirable: they must coexist, as one is the necessary condition for the function of the other.
QA and Testing follow a similar pattern, one in which the balanced play of each force results in complete visibility into the SDLC, and where each force is deeply interconnected to achieve the quality level of the software product. It’s this balanced interplay of practices that results in appropriate information under which sound business decisions can be made.
Since there are different factors in the SDLC that can change or transform the product, including the need to react quickly, to adapt processes and guidelines, to redefine the strategy, and to keep business risks under control, designing and implementing an integral QA and Testing Approach is the only sure path to ensure the quality of the product, meeting business needs, and sustaining and improving customer satisfaction.
Quality Assurance and Testing cannot exist independently of each other, and both practices are essential for a high-performing SDLC.
When the QA and Testing approach is aligned to the business goals and priorities, it becomes a powerful tool to keep costs under control. The implementation of this approach allows not only finding defects (Testing) once the product is developed, but also prevents the creation of defects (QA) from the beginning of the SDLC, avoiding rework and expenses attributed to deficient quality. The approach drives measurable efficiency gains while adding solid risk management processes to rule out meltdowns and undesirable—and highly risky—results. It controls the integrity of items and ensures the correct configuration management processes are in place.
Unleashing the business value promise on software, reducing risk and boosting productivity should not necessarily be a daunting task. The challenge is finding a balance between QA and Testing, and to start measuring the ROI of an integrated approach.
QA and Testing Product Management.