The main driver for most E-Business projects is dynamic development and rapid delivery to the market place. These projects are high profile, involve creative ideas not solid requirements and demand a 'Just Do It' approach.

This challenges the objectives and risk adverse habits of many testers. Some issues are:

  • Traditional quality and test processes can be seen as slowing down delivery.
  • Success criteria for creative and performance deliverables are difficult to measure.
  • It is difficult to focus test design on error type as there is minimal experience/history of where problems might be.
  • Documented requirements at the right level of detail are not available as early inputs to test planning. The 'old' serial test phases (unit, link, system, UAT) are no longer the most value added test phases. In the New Web World, what’s the definition of an error?

Test Managers need to evolve; adapting well used test techniques to be pragmatic as well as using flair to ensure that testing is focused on finding anticipated error types and executed in the right time windows of the project life cycle to add most value.

Instead, Test Managers might focus on:

  • Early brainstorming of error types as main input to the test strategy,
  • Designing a Test Laboratory with rapid throughput and guaranteed SLAs for test execution,
  • Early unstructured and undocumented 'fairytale' testing as soon as code is available,
  • Using other people's web sites to design high level functional tests (after all basic functionality; search, trolley, checkout, is the same!),
  • Defining success criteria for usability and loyalty,
    Spending most attention on performance, security, browser type testing,
  • Designing a post live tuning test phase,
  • Demonstrating that corrupt data cannot pass between the E-business application and the integrated back office.

Traditionally, testing has always been done in-house. Forward thinking test managers are now finding that the new areas of test focus; new technologies and the concept of SLAs for test execution, may allow them to outsource their different test phases to specialist test service providers.

Indeed as well as being more cost effective, less risky and enabling rapid delivery, this approach may begin to give the industry an independent benchmark of quality.

Lynn O'Connell