Context Driven (Test) Improvement
There is a constant need for improvement of software development. What is your motivation for improvement or what triggered you to want improvement? To keep up to date or to explore new paths? To get solutions for problems or to keep ahead of the competition and stay in business? It is difficult to get improvement ideas successfully implemented. Improvement means change and many people find it difficult to change. Sometimes they just don’t want change. Improvement approaches that used to be popular, are less successful nowadays due to the changed context. How to increase the rate of success of improvements? How to cope with resistance to change? How to better focus improvements? Please find answers on this website!
Why is (test) between brackets?
Improvements in the software development process often start from testing. That is because testing provides insight in problems in software products but also problems in the processes that produces that software. So, while looking for improvement opportunities, we cannot stay within the boundaries of testing, but also need to investigate other aspects of software development, like programming, business analysis and project management.
How to keep the connection to modern context?
The need for automating business processes with software has put testing firmly on the map in the last century. In the same period the need for structured ways to improve testing processes arose. During previous decennia, TPI® (Next) has been applied worldwide for that purpose. But approaches like this have reached their limits. Innovation is needed because:
- software development is done more and more in short cycles,
- software development is done more and more in small, multi-disciplined teams,
- the boundaries between testing and other disciplines like programming, analysis and project management become vague,
- more and more software development tasks are automated,
- new technologies introduces new specialisations like (testing of) mobile apps and
- the introduction of cloud computing and outsourcing.
Context Driven (Test) Improvement
In testing, the necessity to let testing be driven by the context is widely accepted. We see the same happening within improvement of software development: improvement is done context driven more and more. We call this CDI: Context Driven Improvement. Improvements are often triggered in relation to business objectives, like quality, timely delivery to production and cost control. It is important that involved stakeholders are aware of the necessity for improvements and are willing to invest in an improvement project.
Improvement architecture. While defining the improvement architecture , important choices are made for the improvement project: what are the objectives, where to focus on and where to look at? The architecture is the foundation of the improvement project and contains: busines objectives, improvement objectives, scope, context and constraints.
Assessment. The context determines the assessment approach: how to detect problems, how to identify improvement opportunities? Various context driven approaches are at our disposal (see table below). During the assessment we get insight in the current situation and we look for answers on questions like: where is the root cause of a problem, what is going well and where are opportunities for improvement? Heuristics are used while determining improvement suggestions. The approaches in the table below can be used another time!
Improvement. Now it is time to transfer opportunities into actual improvements. How is this organised and which improvement implementation strategies are successful (and less successful…) in certain context? The way improvement activities are merged with Business As Usual is a critical success factor. Again, the context is a determining factor.
Approaches. We are in need of a wide range of approaches in support of improvement, that keeps moving, driven by the continuous innovations that happen around us.
(TOGA, Cloutest, TI4Automation and TI4Agile are trademarks of Polteq, TPI® (Next) is a trademark of Sogeti.)