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Continuous Testing: It's All About Risk

Continuous Testing provides a real-time, objective assessment of business risks

No matter what industry you're in, software is increasingly becoming the interface to your business. Organizations that are able to increase the speed and quality of innovative software releases will capitalize on differentiable competitive advantages; those that cannot will languish behind competitors.

Not surprisingly, many enterprises have begun flirting with the idea of accelerating the SDLC to drive innovation through software. However, it’s critical to realize that there's an optimal balance between speed and quality with software delivery—as with all engineered products. We're in an era in which leading organizations must reassess the true "cost of quality" for software. Remember: the cost of quality isn't the price of creating quality software—it’s the penalty or risk incurred by failing to deliver quality software.

Testing: The Elephant in the Room

As organizations begin to accelerate the SDLC, process bottlenecks will become evident. One of the bottlenecks that continues to plague SDLC acceleration is testing. At best, testing has been considered inevitable overhead—a "time-boxed" event that occurs sometime between code complete and the target release date. At worst, organizations have pushed quality processes to post-release, forcing a “real-time customer acceptance test.”

Testing has always been the elephant in the room. Psychologically, the malleable nature of software has given organizations an excuse to defer investment in testing. However, this deferral results in technical debt. Over time, technical debt compounds, escalating the risk and complexity associated with each release.
Another obstacle to SDLC acceleration is the lack of a coordinated, end-to-end quality process. If trustworthy and holistic quality data were collected throughout the SDLC, then more automated decision points could optimize downstream processes. Unfortunately, at the time of the critical “go/no-go” decision for a software release candidate, few organizations can confidently answer the questions:
  • Are we done testing?
  • Does the release candidate achieve expected quality standards?
  • What are the quantifiable risks associated with the release candidate?
  • How confident are we that we won't end up in the news?
This is why the concept of Continuous Testing is so critical.

Continuous Testing: How it Helps

Continuous Testing provides a real-time, objective assessment of the business risks associated with an application under development. Applied uniformly, it allows both business and technical managers to make better trade-off decisions between release scope, time, and quality.

Continuous Testing is NOT simply more automation. Rather, it is the reassessment of software quality practices—driven by an organization's cost of quality and balanced for speed and agility. Ultimately, Continuous Testing can provide a quantitative assessment of risk and produce actionable tasks that will help mitigate these risks before progressing to the next stage of the SDLC.

ContinuousTestingPhases

When it comes to software quality, we are confronting the need for true process re-engineering. Continuous Testing is not a "plug and play" solution. As with all process-driven initiatives, it requires the evolution of people, process, and technology. We must accommodate the creative nature of software development as a discipline, yet we must face the overwhelming fact that software permeates every aspect of the business—and software failure presents the single greatest risk to the organization.

Explore Continuous Testing Best Practices at SDLC Acceleration Summit

SDLCAccelerationSummitWant to dive deeper into best practices associated with Continuous Testing, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Release? Attend the SDLC Acceleration Summit on May 13 in San Francisco.
The summit is designed to help industry leaders address the growing concerns about accelerating software delivery without compromising application quality. This vendor-agnostic summit will address topics such as:
  • The Future of the SDLC
  • Integrity within the Software Supply Chain
  • Reassessing the True Cost of Software Quality
  • Gaining a Competitive Advantage via an Advanced Software Delivery Process

To kick off this event, Theresa Lanowitz, software industry expert and founder of voke, inc., will be delivering the keynote.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Cynthia Dunlop

Cynthia Dunlop, Lead Content Strategist/Writer at Tricentis, writes about software testing and the SDLC—specializing in continuous testing, functional/API testing, DevOps, Agile, and service virtualization. She has written articles for publications including SD Times, Stickyminds, InfoQ, ComputerWorld, IEEE Computer, and Dr. Dobb's Journal. She also co-authored and ghostwritten several books on software development and testing for Wiley and Wiley-IEEE Press. Dunlop holds a BA from UCLA and an MA from Washington State University.

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