Higher product quality, fewer project risks
Tight resources and rising cost pressures are two of the most important reasons why more and more companies are developing their software through nearshore and offshore projects. When outsourcing development work abroad, it is a good idea to optimise test management at the same time (see Fig. 1). Improvements to the test process not only improve product quality, but also minimise project risks and magnify cost benefits because they optimise the software development process.
Fig. 1: Test activities to share easily
Errors discovered too late cost money
The basis for comprehensive test management is a test plan that defines all testing methods and tools and lists the measures sequentially. The effort pays off: the cost of errors rises exponentially the longer they remain undetected because they are passed down from one step of the project to the next, causing more damage. With a test plan, such errors are discovered earlier and can be corrected without major delays or financial outlay.
No test management without a considered test plan
The preliminary phase of a distributed development project is the ideal time to rethink the test plan. Tasks, roles and responsibilities must be analysed and adjusted as appropriate before the project launch. The exchange with developers will improve the quality of the processes, methods and infrastructures. It is important to start at the interface of the collaboration: methods, structures and tools must be coordinated and individual test strategies and measures developed, along with a common understanding of the process and objectives.
Interdisciplinary projects are challenging
This procedure also makes it possible to continually adjust the test measures with which the individual steps in the development process are validated and verified (V&V). This is of particular importance to industrial companies, as their product development projects are often interdisciplinary and they must also develop and refine the electronic or mechanical components of their products in addition to the software. Parallel development thus places additional demands on test management.
Parallel development is more cost-effective
Nearshore and offshore projects present an ideal opportunity to redefine V&V measures. After outsourcing, they can be iteratively tested, improved and – as soon as they fulfil all requirements – rolled out for the entire development process. This makes it possible to develop individual product components simultaneously even in complex projects, thus optimising cost-effectiveness as the project is completed more quickly and the risk of overlooking errors, which are time-consuming and costly to correct, is minimised.
Real-world example: when time and money are tight
A mechanical engineering firm wants to improve the quality of its software and sustain that higher standard of quality over the long term. The development and testing processes are separated and outsourced to Eastern Europe. As time and money are in short supply, processes can be optimised only to a certain degree before outsourcing. Ensuring timely and on-budget completion in spite of this, and without losing sight of structures and methods, calls for a pragmatic approach.
The risk matrix prioritises individual tests
A Swiss test manager leads the test team in Eastern Europe. The interfaces are decisive for communication and the success of the project. First, the roles and responsibilities are clarified and assigned before a common understanding of the most important concepts and their dependencies is set down in a metamodel. Then the individual tests are prioritised based on a risk matrix that maps all the software functions according to their impact on the business and the likelihood of errors. This optimises efficiency in the testing and development process. The result is a rapid and substantial improvement in quality.