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People, Process, Tools: The Heart of a Software Testing Methodology

We talk a lot about software testing methodologies around here.  And for good reason—they’re a primary component of a consistent and efficient testing and QA organization.  But what is a methodology built upon?  At Lighthouse, it comes down to 3 things: People, Process, and Tools. 

People, Process, Tools: The Heart of a Software Testing Methodology
Simply put, a software testing methodology is a defined set of processes, methods, systems, and tools that govern your testing/QA organization.  When successfully applied, they can substantially increase efficiency, efficacy, and consistency.
At Lighthouse, we’ve broken that down to three core components: People, Process, and Tools.

What is a software testing methodology?

We get that question a lot.  I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising, since we’ve talked about them at length, but it’s a question that’s definitely worth answering—because it’s one of the most important aspects of your testing and QA organization.

Simply put, a software testing methodology is a defined set of processes, methods, systems, and tools that govern your testing/QA organization.  When successfully applied, they can substantially increase efficiency, efficacy, and consistency.

But that’s only part of the story.  A testing methodology is more than mere procedures, it’s a set of governing principles.  At Lighthouse, we’ve broken that down to three core components: People, Process, and Tools.  Together, they make up the backbone of our True North Testing Methodology™.

People

The primary component of any testing methodology, people should always be seen as the first line of defense when shoring up a software testing/QA organization.

Admittedly, this “People-First” approach can seem a little backwards at first.  In fact, we’ve been asked by clients, “why worry about people first, when processes enhance their skillset and tools make their lives easier?”

Our answer is always the same: 65 percent of the improvement an organization can make comes solely from having the right people in the right roles.  After all, the best processes and the most cutting-edge tools are useless without properly qualified—and motivated—people to utilize them.

Think about it: when was the last time you held software testing training for your people?  Has it been a while?  Months go by quickly in this industry, and it’s easy to let something like training fall by the wayside.  But, in the end, people want to be motivated.  They want to be empowered to do what they feel is right for the project, the company, and the team.  If you can inspire them to do so, then you’re well on the way to applying a successful testing methodology.

Process

Comprising 25 percent of the total improvement a testing/QA organization can make, process is the second-most important aspect of a highly-effective testing methodology.

Aspects of a process-driven testing/QA organization include things like documenting test cases, reporting, and the utilization of metrics.  These don’t just help foster consistency, but also iterative improvement—as the collection of metrics and past performance data is integral to getting better in the long run.

Just imagine: no more cutting features or sacrificing functionalities because the project went off schedule.  No more critical defects flooding your help desk with complaints and drawing the ire of upper management.  If you’re looking for quantitative testing plans that are rooted in fact, not fantasy, then process is your key.

Want to make that a reality?  Start tracking metrics.  Even capturing the most basic measurements like Test Cases Executed vs. Plan, Defects by Severity, and tracking basic exit criteria can go a long way toward fostering a more reliable and repeatable testing plan.

Tools

Make no mistake: even though tools are last on our list, they’re not worthless.  Far from it, in fact.  But the point remains: they’re best viewed as a process enhancer, not a magic bullet.

Unfortunately, many IT departments see tools as exactly that: a quick solution to systemic problems.  That couldn’t be further from the truth—especially considering the fact that, at their best, tools only make up 10 percent of a testing/QA organization’s overall improvement.

But that doesn’t mean that tools aren’t worth investing in, either.  In fact, defect tracking tools like JIRA and test management tools can be incredibly useful to an already well-equipped team.  It simply means that the “implement and install” route that so many IT leaders fantasize about—installing the most cutting-edge tools and implementing the best processes—only accounts for a little more than half the total improvement they can make by adopting a “People First” mentality instead.

Getting Started

There’s no getting around it: creating a software testing methodology from the ground up is a long, hard road.  So, don’t do it.  We’ve already done the hard part for you. 

We’ve spent years building our proprietary approach to software testing—so you don’t have to.  If you’re interested in improving your quality, lowering your costs, and improving your time-to-market and efficiency, the True North Testing Methodology™ can work for you.

If you’re interested in learning how our methodology can help improve your organization, drop us a line to set up a quick conversation with one of our experts.  Even if you just have a couple of questions, we’re happy to help!

Cheers,

Mike Hodge
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

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