Educating CIO’s on Software Quality is Critical

software testingThe world of software quality has changed tremendously over the last 5 years.  There are many reasons why this has happened, and it is critical that education serve as the primary strategy to influence change in an organization.   Here are a few critical areas where the CIO can gain a better understanding of some of the challenges that impact software quality.

 

Requirements

Primarily due to Agile, the robust requirements that used to be a cornerstone of the waterfall methology have been thrown in the trash.  While there are some organizations that continue to document and provide best practices gathering requirements, most organizations feel this is outdated and no longer necessary.   The lack of proper documentation and requirements have a direct correlation on software quality.   Here are some specific reasons

  • Without proper documentation a developer will code software based upon their understanding.  This often will result in buggy code and requires rework after production, which will be very expensive to fix.
  • Without proper documentation a tester will write test cases based upon their understanding.   This often will result in test cases that have to be written again and will result in the tester missing defects that will go into production.
  • Without proper documentation, the test automation engineer, will build automation test cases which will have to be changed once the manual test case changes, and will miss defects that go into production.
  • Without proper documentation, the production support developer will fix problems in production and will break other production code, because they didn’t get an accurate picture from the developer that originally built the code.

These are a few examples, but you should start understanding why requirements are critical.

Agile

Agile has changed the approach on how software is delivered into production.  It has some tremendous benefits, and done properly, it can greatly increase productivity within an organization.  It is quick, lean, and provides fantastic feedback from the business.  CIO’s love it because it provides rapid return on investment.

There are some challenges from a software quality perspective that need to be incorporated and education needs to happen across all levels of an organization.   Unless you are deeply entrenched on an agile team, you will probably make a ton of assumptions that are incorrect.   Within an agile team, everyone has a responsibility for software quality.   Here are some areas that will have a direct impact on software quality:

  • Agile Stories must be well written.  It is not enough to throw out tasks without enough detail.
  • Agile Planning is critical.   There is some real misunderstanding about agile as it relates to planning.  The more planning and organizing that can be done, the better the team will respond and be able to pack more work within a given sprint.
  • Documentation is needed.  This is another area which is often misunderstood.  Providing documentation allows the team to understand details and more effectively code and test the desired solution.
  • Developers must still test.   This is important.   Just because the agile team has a tester, doesn’t mean that a developer doesn’t have to test.
  • All testing can be automated.   Well, perhaps it could.  But it might not make sense, especially if the code isn’t stable and will need to change over sprints.  ROI, is still important within agile, so just because you can automate a test, doesn’t mean that you should.  This is the most misunderstood item that CIO’s need software quality education.

Defects

CIO’s often ask why there are so many defects found in production.  Well, that is a fairly complicated question.  In order to answer that, a full analysis will need to be done on the defects to gain a better understanding.  Many years ago, when I began a new job, the same question was asked.   In order to come up with the correct answer, the CIO brought in an outside company to perform a software testing assessment.   While I was fairly new, it wasn’t uncommon for this to occur.  In fact, I welcomed the opportunity, because I already had a hypothesis as to why this was happening.  Typically this is primarily due to little or very poor requirements.  The company came in and did the assessment and found that there were 38% of defects that were making it into production.  That is a really high percentage, most companies will average around 5%.  Over a period of time, we started to tackle the problem, and after 1 year of work, we were able to reduce the production defect leakage to 5%.  This was a tremendous accomplishment and required a team effort from project managers,business analysts, developers, and testers to make this happen.

Software Quality Metrics

CIO’s are very metrics driven.  They use data everyday to make better decisions.  While there is usually some form of metrics around software quality, it usually does not make it into the CIO’s hand for one reason or another.  I believe software quality metrics will tell a story, and provide great insight to those that are willing to look and interpret the data.  Several years ago, my team and I started to perform analysis on what data was important and which metrics would help us make decisions.  Once we agreed on what those metrics would be, we started to gather that information release over release.  We started to see trends that would help us test more thoroughly those areas which where problematic.  That resulted in bringing production defects down.  We also, built a web based dashboard, that would allow the CIO and anyone else in the company to see how testing was progressing.  Using this dashboard, we could determine if we were going to meet our testing timelines, and see what outstanding defects were holding up production deployments.  This was a true game changer for the organization.

Educating CIO’s on sofware quality will take time.  CIO’s want to have high quality software, they often don’t understand how to get there.  They don’t want their business partners to suffer through using software that doesn’t work properly.  It is important as a quality champion, you spend time with your CIO and provide software quality education, so that you can avoid having significant issues in production.  Software quality can be done effectively and efficiently within an organization.

 

Build Strong Edge Test Cases

build strong edge test casesBuild Strong Edge Test Cases

If you are a software engineer, there is a lot of effort in software testing.  With management demanding more and more quality, there is a strong push to create efficient test cases which prevent defects occurring in production.   In my 15+ years of software testing, I have found that most organizations do a very good job in covering your happy path scenarios.   I have however found that creation of negative test cases and development of edge test cases are very limited.   The main reason for this is that there is often very little time but more importantly, a lack of creativity to build these scenarios.

Creating strong edge test cases requires a very creative mind.  Sure, you need to be able to understand how the system works, but you also need to think outside the box and ask the hard questions in your test case workflows.  If you only go by a rigid set of requirements and never deviate outside of that you aren’t going to find any edge scenarios.  Building strong edge test cases requires solid application knowledge.  For example, it is important to know what will happen when the same user tries to access the same information and perform an update on it.  Will the record get locked?  Which person will update the record?  These are the types of questions that have to be answered.  Here are some additional potential edge scenarios:

  • Have a user login and disable the user to see what happens
  • Have two users try to update the same record
  • Disable the connection between the application and database
  • Have the same user try to login from two different computers

There are many more possibilities when building edge scenarios.  Over a period of time, you can begin to identify these edge test cases a lot easier, and you will begin to see tendencies which will cause these conditions.  Chances are pretty great that if the application will allow you to do something, your business user is going to try it.  These edge scenarios are also the ones that the development team is not typically going to think about, so they often will not program for it, and it will really require some thinking on their part.  These edge test cases will often stir up a lot of controversy, because these are often things that are not spelled out in the requirements.  Some of them will usually result in some significant frustration from a business perspective because it can cause a lot of uncertainty and could impact downstream processes because it wasn’t identified.

Edge test case can also typically be negative scenarios.  They could be automated, but they may not be the best candidates, because they are often complex in nature.  These are the types of things that requires deep thinking and creativity.  The testers that are the most creative, will always strive to get to the edge of coverage and push beyond in order to prevent business users from finding defects.   The good thing about edge testing is that you can perform these types of test in waterfall, agile or other SDLC cycles.

5 Step Install Robot Framework Ride using PIP

software testingIf you would like to learn how to 5 step install robot framework ride using PIP I can provide a simple process and get it installed quickly.  You have probably already installed Python, and most people use pip to make it super easy.  I have outlined the 5 steps below to install robot framework ride using pip.

 

RIDE is a lightweight and intuitive editor for Robot Framework test data.  If you would like to learn more information about the RIDE framework click here.

5 Step Install Robot Framework Ride using PIP

Step 1: Find Install location

Go to the location where you have installed Python.

Step 2: Copy the path of the folder location.

Step 3: Type cmd to open the command line

Step 4: Type cd and paste the path of the directory.

Step 5: Type pip install robotframework -ride and press Enter

5 Step Install Robot Framework Ride using PIP

That is it.  The 5 Step Install Robot Framework Ride using PIP.

 

5 Step Install PYWIN32 using PIP

software testingIf you would like to learn how to install pywin32 using pip I can provide a simple 5 step process and get it installed quickly.  You have probably already installed Python, and most people use pip to make it super easy.  I have outlined the 5 steps below to install pywin32 using pip.

 

If you have not configured Selenium with Eclipse click here.

Python extensions for Microsoft Windows Provides access to much of the Win32 API, the ability to create and use COM objects, and the Pythonwin environment.  If you want to learn more about the benefits of pywin32 click here.

5 Step Install PYWIN32 using PIP

Step 1: Find Install location

Go to the location where you have installed Python.

Step 2: Copy the path of the folder location.

Step 3: Type cmd to open the command line

Step 4: Type cd and paste the path of the directory.

Step 5: Type pip install -U pywin32 and press Enter

5 step install pywin32 using pip

 

That is it.  The 5 Step Install PYWIN32 using PIP has been installed successfully using PIP.

 

Install wxPython GUI Toolkit for Using PIP

If you are starting to learn how to use wxPython GUI Toolkit for Python so that you can get a jump start on developing test scripts using Python with Selenium.  You have probably already installed Python, and most people use pip to make it super easy.  I have outlined the steps below that are needed to get it up and running.

 

If you have not configured Selenium with Eclipse click here.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of the wxPython click here.

Install wxPython GUI Toolkit for Python

Step 1: Find Install location

Go to the location where you have installed Python.

Step 2: Copy the path of the folder location.

Step 3: Type cmd to open the command line

Step 4: Type cd and paste the path of the directory.

 

Step 5: Type pip install -U wxPython and press Enter

Install wxPython GUI Toolkit for Python

 

That is it.  The wxPython GUI Toolkit for Python has been installed successfully using pip.

If you would like to learn more about Selenium click here.

 

Install Python Robot Framework for Selenium using PIP

Install Java and Selenium WebDriverIf you are starting to learn how to use Selenium with Python it is a great idea to download a framework so that you can get a jump start on developing test scripts using Python with Selenium.  You have probably already installed Python, and most people use pip to make it super easy.  I have outlined the steps below that are needed to get it up and running.   This is the first time I have installed pip so you will be able to see the process from beginning to end.

 

If you have not configured Selenium with Eclipse click here.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of the Robot framework click here.

Install Python Robot Framework for Selenium using PIP

Step 1: Find Install location

Go to the location where you have installed Python.

Step 2: Copy the path of the folder location.

Step 3: Type cmd to open the command line

Step 4: Type cd and paste the path of the directory.

 

Step 5: Type pip install robotframework and press Enter

robot framework installed successfully

That is it.  The Python Robot Framework for Selenium has been installed successfully using pip.

If you would like to learn more about Selenium click here.