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Testers, developers to overcome obstacles in QA process

Posted: 01 Oct 2007     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:QA process  standardise communication practices  device test obstacles 

Ryan: Testing organisations can overcome the communication obstacles common in the QA process; the key is to standardise communication practices.

Developers and testers in the network device market share a unique peer relationship, yet they often experience communication problems during the QA process.

One might argue that this is the result of using different tools and technologies, or working in disparate locations separated by time zones and language barriers. But even when development and testing take place in the same building, communication problems still occur because traditional methods don't work for today's testing organisations. Devices are becoming increasingly complex and require more testing before release. Thus, clear and efficient interaction between developers and testers is more important than ever before.

It is also important to note that communication problems between developers and testers are common, and not limited to small or new device manufacturers. Some of the leading device companies have struggled with communication issues and have paid the price—in the form of problems ranging from more bugs to product release delays.

Developers and testers face a range of communication issues—from misinformation to complete breakdowns—throughout the QA process. Both teams are committed to delivering a quality product, but neither has communication practices in place to help them work together toward their goal.

Testing organisations can resolve problems and increase efficiency by standardising communications throughout the QA process. This requires a combination of testing tool technology and personal commitment. Following are a few proven methods:

Capture every interaction. To facilitate effective communication, developers and testers should have tools that capture, automatically log and store every interaction. They need readable, structured and executable reports that include step timing, actions performed and response data for all interactions.

Document test cases in the language of the device. To ensure that the test cases can be read and universally understood by all testers and developers regardless of location, language or scripting expertise, test cases should be documented in a language specific to the device.

Ensure a smooth hand-off. To avoid knowledge transfer issues, a standard QA process should capture the details of a developer's "positive unit test," and then automatically report the results to the responsible engineer or enter them into a document management system.

Facilitate meaningful communication. In order to resolve communication problems found in typical bug reports, QA testing should include a comprehensive report of the tester's activities, providing complete data to anyone reviewing the bugs. The report file should also be executable, in case reproduction is necessary.

Confirm true defects. To help testers confirm that an observed problematic behavior is indeed a defect, the QA process should include electronically transmitted reports. This built-in efficiency measure eliminates interruptions by developers wanting to access the tester's testbed.

With the right tools and techniques, testing organisations can improve communication between developers and testers, increase the effectiveness of the debugging process, and improve overall QA efficiency. This represents a win not only for developers and testers, but also for management by promoting efficient product development cycles and faster time-to-market.

- Tom Ryan
President and CEO, The Fanfare Group Inc.

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