Testing involves operation of a system or application under controlled conditions and evaluating the results (eg, ‘if the user is in interface A of the application while using hardware B, and does C, than D should happen’). The controlled conditions should include both normal and abnormal conditions. Testing should intentionally attempt to make things go wrong to determine if things happen when they shouldn’t or things don’t happen when they should. It is oriented to ‘detection’.
Organizations vary considerably in how they assign responsibility for quality assurance and testing. Sometimes they’re the combined responsibility of one group or individual. Common are teams that include a mix of QA experts and engineers who work closely together to ensure that necessary attention to the topic and activities are in place. It will depend on what best fits an organization’s size and business structure.
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Do you spend enough time on quality? Here are very interesting facts that might help you to makeup your mind:
- Software problems in the automated baggage sorting system of a major airport in February 2008 prevented thousands of passengers from checking baggage for their flights. It was reported that the breakdown occurred during a software upgrade, despite pre-testing of the software. The system continued to have problems in subsequent months.
- News reports in December of 2007 indicated that significant software problems were continuing to occur in a new ERP payroll system for a large urban school system. It was believed that more than one-third of employees had received incorrect paychecks at various times since the new system went live the preceding January, resulting in overpayments of $53 million, as well as underpayments. An employees’ union brought a lawsuit against the school system, the cost of the ERP system was expected to rise by 40%, and the non-payroll part of the ERP system was delayed. Inadequate testing reportedly contributed to the problems.
- In November of 2007 a regional government reportedly brought a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a software services vendor, claiming that the vendor ‘minimized quality’ in delivering software for a large criminal justice information system and the system did not meet requirements. The vendor also sued its subcontractor on the project.
- In June of 2007 news reports claimed that software flaws in a popular online stock-picking contest could be used to gain an unfair advantage in pursuit of the game’s large cash prizes. Outside investigators were called in and in July the contest winner was announced. Reportedly the winner had previously been in 6th place, indicating that the top 5 contestants may have been disqualified.
- A software problem contributed to a rail car fire in a major underground metro system in April of 2007 according to newspaper accounts. The software reportedly failed to perform as expected in detecting and preventing excess power usage in equipment on a new passenger rail car, resulting in overheating and fire in the rail car, and evacuation and shutdown of part of the system.
Do you find right balance between speed and quality? Do you have a team member who asks this question: “What if?…”