Why software testing matters to us all

Why software testing matters to us all

In this blog, we continue the conversation by considering questions and concepts that have been gaining ground for some years now. Two of those concepts will be of particular importance to technology in the years ahead: intuition and vulnerability, and the meanings of both might be pushed to the limit.

Nothing lasts forever. When it comes to software, this idea takes on some interesting complexity and nuance.

Is our software actually built to last?

And what do we mean by product longevity?

Is our software being manufactured with all the safety, function and quality assurances that we expect from products manufactured in other industries?

When it comes to so much of our software, is this the best we can do?

Many of us don’t believe so.

For instance, we wonder why a company as huge and profitable as Apple expects customers to pay extra for service on its products. Do companies like Apple routinely release software that is known to have unresolved defects? Could it be that selling products is not as profitable as servicing those products?

It is unfair and pointless to attack the software industry. Where would we be were it not for its innovation and creativity? However, it must be noted that no other industry is so successful while simultaneously creating so many failures. What if planes crashed every day or even three times a month? What if elevators routinely stalled? What would happen if ocean liners kept sinking? What about buildings that fall down? Everyone would freak out. The media would be all over such incidents; government agencies and law enforcement would conduct investigations; indictments would be handed down and massive penalties assessed; recommendations would be issued and the industry would be forced to comply; lawsuits would be filed. Offending companies would go out of business.

What happens, however, when a software project fails? And what about hacks to software security systems? Is there a big investigation? Are the individuals responsible for the project held accountable?  Are new rules written by government agencies that the industry must adopt and follow? No. No regulatory body exists in the software development industry that has the power and authority to compel industry-wide compliance; at this point, best practices are purely voluntary. The field is wide open and anyone who wants in is free to hang out a shield that says Open for Business. On big software projects, failures result in losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Especially when it comes to cyber security, the losses from indirect costs could push that number even higher.

We think the software development industry should be as concerned about all this as we are. As North America’s most respected professional software testing service, we don’t like the excessive number of fails we are seeing. We should all be doing a better job because the future depends on it.

The world runs on software. How odd that we take that statement for granted, considering how momentous it is. It’s doubtful that in the history of the world we have ever experienced a revolution that has so permanently altered the global landscape. Machines have become intuitive. We talk to them and they talk to us. Machines keep our homes warm and secure; machines let us know when it’s time to restock our refrigerators and with what; they can even order supplies for us. Machines monitor our health and automatically alert hospitals of danger. Very soon our machines will drive for us. Tell them where you want to go and they will take you there in complete safety. Machines turn the lights on and make us coffee. The possibilities are endless. And so are the risks.

The challenge we face in the testing community is how we address the issue of software quality in an increasingly completive global environment that increasingly depends on software. And that isn’t only our challenge; it’s yours too!

There will be no spectators in a fully integrated digital future.

We are all in the game.

Who will be the winners and who the losers? We don’t know. But we do know this: digital technology has changed everything. And that everything includes how we think about business and the decisions we make, and how we make them.

The next blog post will take a look at some ways to ensure that you are taking the right steps to guarantee your success while paving the road for further innovation.

Please reach out to me by email (arodov at qaconsultants.com) or via LinkedIn.

Alex Rodov is the Managing Partner at QA Consultants.