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Your CFO would laugh at the thought of waiting for an auditor to determine whether the books had any errors. Rather, he would ensure that the company had policies and procedures for vetting and then correcting errors long before the audit. If the CFO did not have this, he would go to jail.

Why, then, do so many software development teams wait for QA to identify the errors in their software? There are several serious problems with this approach:

  • Since today's complex SOA and Web 2.0 applications are becoming increasingly difficult to test at the application level, leaving the burden of testing to QA is inefficient and ineffective. Consequently, applications are released without truly knowing what errors remain in the application and what impact they will have.
  • It would be significantly faster, easier, and cheaper to find the same errors earlier in the lifecycle.
  • Iterative development models (Agile, TDD, Scrum, etc.), which place the onus of quality on developers, are becoming increasingly popular.
  • If defects are not removed by developers, then QA testers and business analysts end up chasing and reporting bugs rather than validating end-to-end business scenarios.

A more effective approach advocates bottom-up quality in a top-down quality process: eliminating errors as they are introduced and preventing similar types of errors from entering the code base, and then supplementing that with a top-down approach, which is a QA-level audit that verifies whether end-to-end business scenarios are working effectively. This approach involves the following core components:

  • Error prevention: Fully-automated practices that help developers detect errors as soon as they are introduced and prevent similar types of errors from entering the code base.
  • Continuous regression testing: An iterative cycle that checks whether requirements are implemented correctly and continue to function correctly as the application evolves. Human intelligence is required to design test cases, but execution is fully automated.
  • Functional audit: An audit, with QA or domain experts validating that the expected end-to-end business scenarios are working effectively.
  • Process control: A control point that sits on top of the other components and provides visibility into the entire process. Such visibility allows teams to fix the process and make small adjustments in the way their organization is approaching quality problems.


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