Rx for Software Quality Woes: Testing, Testing, and More Testing

Companies that implement a centralized software-testing program report higher quality levels than companies that don’t

Companies that implement a centralized software-testing program report higher software quality levels than companies that don’t.

That’s the no-brainer upshot of a recent survey from application-testing specialist Compuware Inc. and consultancy Forrester Research. The two also teamed up last year, when Compuware sponsored a Forrester report that attempted to affix precise costs to application downtime or unavailability.

This time around, Forrester solicited responses from 305 senior IT executives with large companies based in both the U.S. and the EU. Of these, 85 percent said application quality is either critical or very critical to their overall effectiveness. What’s more, 63 percent of respondents initiated software quality improvement initiatives more than three years ago, and 54 percent invested in quality-testing tools for application development.

That’s the good news. The bad news: the gap between vision and execution. Though most IT executives acknowledge the importance of application quality, few believe that their own quality-assurance efforts are up to snuff. Only 29 percent of executives who invested in testing tools say they’ve seen a significant improvement.

What’s more, when asked to identify the biggest barrier to improving application quality, most IT executives cited the absence of standardized quality procedures as the number one reason. Even so, fewer than half of IT executives currently rely on a formal plan for improving application quality.

“Technology won't deliver quality. Effective testing processes and skilled staff make all the difference,” said Forrester analyst Margo Visitacion in a statement. “Unless development, QA and operations staff are onboard with the testing process, organizational boundaries will blur and responsibilities won't be clear.”

Elsewhere, of the 32 percent of IT executives who reported experiencing huge improvements in application quality, almost two-thirds (64 percent) applied a formal quality-assurance methodology. In addition, 52 percent of the 129 executives who consistently apply a formal quality-assurance methodology said they are very effective at eliminating defects before deployment.

What else can companies do to ratchet up their quality levels? If the Compuware-Forrester survey is correct, collaboration is key: communication, interaction, and collaboration between and among development, quality assurance, and operations staffs is key to improving quality levels.

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About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.