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Software Test Process Improvement (TPI)

To produce the highest-quality software and applications possible, companies rely on the software development life cycle (SDLC), which provides a solid framework for creating, refining and ultimately deploying new software solutions. But this process doesn’t happen in a vacuum. With multiple types — such as agile, waterfall and spiral — and evolving corporate needs, there’s always room for improvement to software development life cycle models, methodologies and the SDLC process.

Consider the key role of the testing phase in SDLC. At XBOSoft, this is what we do all day, every day — and we recognize that the software testing life cycle must do more than find defects at the end of the development cycle. Using a proven methodology known as TPI, or Test Process Improvement, we’re able to help IT teams drive software process improvement from the very beginning of the software development life cycle. This includes starting from software requirements and ensuring that design development includes testability as an element of design. It also includes not only acceptance testing and methods to quickly identify defects in production, but also unit testing from the start to drive higher productivity throughout the entire test process.

An integral part of TPI is the application of process engineering methodologies to evaluate testing maturity. This improvement strategy consists of 16 key evaluation areas, including:

  • Test Strategy – XBOSoft’s software test strategy and planning efforts first identify risk to guide the testing process and ensure that effort is expended in the right places at the right times. The test strategy and plan not only determine what functions and features should be tested, but how, by who, how much time should be allocated, what benefits you should expect (why do it that way) and how you should measure success. It doesn’t have to be long and shouldn’t be, but keeps everyone on the same page and provides a great reference for retrospectives. But in addition to testing features and functions, don’t forget to test for quality properties. For example: Performance, Security, Compatibility, Learnability, Usability and Reliability. It’s easy to overlook some of these non-functional quality properties since defects in these areas are hard to measure and quantify.
  • Agile Test Process Management – In the old days with software development lifecycle models such as waterfall, we took software requirements, added in some design development to figure out what to build, wrote code, unit tested, and deployed. Acceptance testing was usually done late and often separate from development activities. Though often unavoidable because the application was not ready to test, it led to a lot of problems down the road.

    With agile development, we see progress early and can deliver at least something by the original deadline. But we need to adapt the traditional testing model to an agile test process, and compress testing cycles while continually increasing the quality of the software under test. And incorporate ways to adapt traditional test strategies that coordinate better with agile testing methodologies.

  • Test Methodology – the right methodology, test results won’t drive critical change. An Agile methodology is a mindset and figuring out what to do – or not do – in order to effectively implement Agile in an organization requires guideposts to ensure your testing delivers actionable and insightful results. Drawing from our years of experience in Agile implementation we’ve identified seven common factors that either lead to success or failure. Many of these habits you already know, like having a solid definition of “done,” but you might not realize that some of your practices are not only hurting your chances of success but setting you up for failure.
  • Test Metrics — You’re testing, but what are you measuring? At XBOSoft, we recognize the need for reliable and relevant metrics in software test process improvement. Our depth of testing experience within the software development life cycle phases can help streamline your development and identify specific metrics of interest. If you’re an organization using an Agile development process, your focus is typically on two key Agile objectives:  quality software (free from defects) and velocity (speed). To effectively achieve those goals requires measurement and accountability.
  • Defect Management — During the course of testing, we find defects, or instances where the software does not meet requirements. Hence, in the area of software testing metrics, there has been abundant work in analyzing defects. What happens when you find a critical defect? There are many flow charts detailing how defects flow back and forth to QA with changes in state (fixed, open, re-open, etc.). There are also numerous software applications (defect tracking systems and defect management systems) that help us track defects at the different phases of development and after release. However, these activities are rarely connected to metrics in such a way that is easy to analyze. At XBOSoft, we use an abbreviated form of UML in order to assign attributes such as metrics to different defect entity types.
  • Test Case Design What should we do to write effective test cases? A test case is simply a list of actions that need to be executed to verify a particular functionality or feature of an application under test. Test cases can also be used as a document to help understand a product’s functionality. To ensure your software is reliably tested and meets all critical benchmarks, you need ideal test case design. XBOSoft can evaluate your current test case procedure, within the testing phase of SDLC, to see what’s working and what isn’t, and suggest actionable improvements to enhance end results.

Using a test maturity matrix, each key testing area is assessed and evaluated against specific checkpoints such as Initial, Controlled, Efficient and Optimized to determine test maturity. Data from the evaluation is then used to create a plan that improves overall test process quality. Our mission is to not only provide the critical testing services necessary to enhance your current SDLC initiative, but give your team the tools it needs to develop long-term testing and deployment strategies that boost your bottom line.

XBOSoft offers Test Process Assessment and Improvement services for companies of any size, customized to your test process improvement and software quality objectives.

Software development life cycle phases is an ever-evolving process, and one that your company may not have the resources or time to manage internally — XBOSoft’s deep technical expertise and focus on Software Quality Assurance makes us the ideal partner to improve your SDLC environment and deliver high-quality code.

Need to enhance your testing processes and keep pace with evolving SDLC? Let’s talk.