Current Software Acceptance Testing is Unacceptable
In software development, a general rule of thumb is the earlier you can find a defect, the cheaper it is to correct. Test Engineers and Quality Assurance best practices are so important because these professionals and practices help prevent flawed code from making it to market.
Sadly, in software engineering, testing and QA are often overlooked. For instance, testing is always the first thing to get cut whenever a project falls behind, no matter what the reasoning.
A Realistic Scenario
Let’s imagine this scenario. Imagine a global pandemic that spreads with such ferocity that it shuts down cities, states, and countries across the globe. This catastrophe forces employees away from their offices and into their “home offices” for months at a time. These shutdowns would have disastrous effects on project schedules. While it would not be their fault, the QA team would take the brunt of the punishment. The verification and validation stages would be the first to be reduced to limit schedule slippage and appease stakeholders.
In this scenario, the QA team must make one of three choices. One, they can bring on more resources to accomplish the same work in less time. Sadly, that’s not always possible because of contractual obligations. Two, they can elect to work faster than they were previously able to commit to, which bends the laws of physics and space/time. Or three, they cut scope and prioritize where they focus their efforts, not adequately testing the entire solution. They’d be forced to ask the stakeholder to sign off on the risk of the system not being fully tested when deployed.
In our experience, option three is the most likely outcome. However, they’ll claim that they went with option two as to not cause alarm with their customer.
As the previous scenario shows, the current state of software testing is flawed. Like many problems, it comes down to the process and design. The method of creating software tests has many flaws. The broken process causes a faulty test design, the faulty test design misses critical areas within a program, and those misses lead to costly fixes later on down the line. It’s a house of cards that continues to fall upon itself.
Modern Software Testing
Comprehensive software testing measures code quality, security, cloud readiness, deployment, functionality, performance, and maintainability. The acceptance testing challenge in 2020 is that software applications have become very complex. So, testing these projects has become more difficult. If you don’t know what you’re doing, or are stuck on an ‘Old School’ methodology, there’s plenty of opportunities to miss something. Those misses will lead to costly fixes later on.
It’s often the secondary and tertiary testing that goes overlooked. These are the mistakes that cause the most damage and cost the most to fix after software testing.
For example, stress testing is a complicated but critical software acceptance test. Stress Testing determines how well your application can handle the traffic. If not checked, your application may crash upon rollout. These crashes bring down the system and your reputation.
During software acceptance testing, it’s effortless to fill out a form, click submit and see whether the record is saved, updated, or deleted. But, how many program offices perform due diligence like stress tests? How many have the tools and know-how to do it? Not many. So, organizations are often reliant on the developers to perform this testing. This leads to….
A Conflict of Interest
Department of Defense offices and project managers are in a very uncomfortable situation. Most project managers don’t have advanced software expertise. The offices don’t have the tools, and infrastructure to design and manage tests.
This lack of expertise isn’t the fault of DoD offices or managers. It’s not their job. Furthermore, with the recent COVID-19 response, many offices don’t have the bandwidth. This predicament leaves project managers with no choice but to assign the responsibility of acceptance testing to their contracting team.
This situation is a conflict of interest. Organizations bring contract teams onboard to build software. Contract teams are not motivated to diagnose flaws in their work. Quite the opposite, actually. They are motivated to highlight how well the software performs to best position themselves for higher CPARs ratings and future contract awards and re-competes.
What offices need is to enlist outside independent third-party support.
3rd Party Standardized Software Testing
Tactical Edge’s Strategic Testing service (TEST) is one of the first independent third-party software testing services. TEST’s core competency is perfect for GATs and UATs within the Department of Defense. TEST is an impartial assessment of technical projects. It follows a standardized process to deliver a targeted evaluation of software systems.
Tactical Edge is the perfect company to create a third-party testing service. For the past decade, Tactical Edge has designed and implemented software for the United States military. Over this time, they’ve developed a standard plan of action that they customize for each project’s requirements and goals.
Modern Software Experts
The TEST team consists of modern software experts and industry professionals with an in-depth understanding of software development, cloud deployment, and advanced technology. The team has been recognized for its testing expertise, resources, and tools by the DoD.
“Our new Tactical Edge Strategic Testing service fills an important role in the software testing space as it works to reduce and remove conflicts of interest that currently persist,” said Paul Danckaert, Chief Technology Officer at Tactical Edge. “Most test activities rely on the contractors directly hired by the company or government agency. With our new TEST service, government offices and private organizations can now rely on our structured software service for all of their test and application needs.”
Tactical Edge will launch TEST in Summer 2020. They’re currently looking for opportunities with DoD offices under the current round of CYD funding.
For a consultation on the new TEST service, contact Megan Gerstenfeld, Product Lead for Strategic Testing Services at firstname.lastname@example.org