Earlier this month, Innovative Defense Technologies (IDT) partnered with QAI as a sponsor of the 2014 Quality Engineered Software & Testing Conference (QUEST). This premier event for software professionals was held April 7-11, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore. The theme for this year’s conference, From Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering, explored best practices for building quality into software, with an emphasis on automated testing solutions and agile development.

Software Testing in a Reduced Budget Climate

IDT CEO Bernie Gauf delivered the conference keynote address, Software Testing in a Reduced Budget Climate, on Wednesday, April 9 at 8:30am. Over 350 attendees were present. He discussed the challenges inherent in delivering high-quality software in the face of tightening budgets.

Bernie began by giving a brief overview of the dramatic technology advances in software development over the past 25 years that have evolved from the use of punch cards, to writing assembly code, to Fortran, to objected-oriented design, and finally  to the Integrated Development Environments in use today. He discussed how, over that same period of time, the majority of testing has continued to be conducted with the same manual techniques based on written test procedures.

Manual Testing is Ripe for Reevaluation

“Overall, testing has lagged behind other software and system development advances. When combined with the current budget environment, the manual approach to testing will result in less capability being delivered, over a longer period of time, and with a higher risk of major defects,” said Gauf. He gave examples of how the cumbersome, labor-intensive nature of manual testing is ripe for reevaluation, especially given the increasing complexity of software, the desire to increase the frequency of software deliveries, and the pressure to reduce the manpower necessary to conduct testing.

As with most new technologies, including that of automated software testing, it seems there is always some resistance. Bernie addressed the most common forms of resistance and offered suggestions for how to address them.  He shared that the resistance to automated testing often includes these thoughts:

  1. The type of testing we do can’t be automated.
  2. Our system is too complex for automation.
  3. Our requirements are so unique that our tests can’t be automated.
  4. Automation might replace my job.

Next, Bernie asserted that, “The future of testing really is automation. It is a change that is coming.”  He shared that, in his experience, the most critical but generally overlooked step in introducing automated testing is developing an automated test strategy. He provided recommendations on how to develop this and included key considerations to account for in creating a strategy.

“The future of testing really is automation. It is a change that is coming.”

“In our experience at IDT, automation is applicable to 60 to 80 percent of a program’s tests and will result in an average decrease in time and manpower of 75%,” said Gauf. These proven results brought his discussion of software testing and quality assurance in a reduced budget climate full circle.

Many of the 350 attendees spoke to Bernie or the IDT representatives following his talk. Some reflected on their memories of past approaches to development and testing that he mentioned, like using punch cards. All were very interested in finding the better approaches to software testing and quality assurance for their programs.