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Why do I need professional software testing?

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Turns out you really can learn a lot from a dummy.

Long before Vince and Larry starred in those classic television PSAs, car manufacturers knew they needed a better way to test vehicle safety. Starting with cadavers, then pigs, and even live volunteers, auto makers eventually made it to the anthropomorphic crash test dummies we know today. And we’re all much safer because of it.

Now, software isn’t life or death – at least I hope not – but the lesson is the same. Without in-depth quality assurance and professional testing, you may be flushing a lot of hard work down the drain. Frankly, we’ve all grown to expect perfection, haven’t we? According to data from Salesforce, it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience. As you can see, it doesn’t take much to lose a lot.

Free your internal teams

A big implementation has a lot of moving parts, and those parts need to be tested. Don’t test enough and you miss bugs; but if you spend too much time and money on testing, you end up wasting a lot of both. Instead, many companies find success by turning to a professional QA/testing team to find that  right-sized solution for the project.

Of course, many CIOs prefer to take a more traditional business user testing approach, especially because it allows you to dedicate internal resources who truly know the business. It also works as a training ground for the business users of the new system.

Keep in mind, however, that this approach takes your people off their full-time jobs and asks them to become testers, which can put pressure on the rest of your organization to take up the slack and keep up with the normal workload. And in many cases, internal teams simply can’t spare enough people to adequately test the new system.

3 values of professional testing

In our client experience, we’ve had the privilege to work with organizations of all sizes, providing both QA and testing services for a wide variety of software. We’ve discovered three key findings that demonstrate the true value of professional testing:

1. Unparalleled experience – Professional testers walk in the door with years of knowledge with QA processes as well as with the most common test tools. They understand requirements traceability, entrance/exit criteria, how to write a test case, the different phases of testing, and many other areas that a business user has no knowledge about—nor will ever use again.

2. A taste for bugs – Professional testers love to find defects—that’s their job! They seek out bugs and defects with the system, and they expect to find them. Business users are often disappointed to find a defect and can’t understand why the developer didn’t get it right the first time. They simply don’t have the experience with the “sausage making” of developing new systems. That type of creativity is crucial for testing success, as Amy Reichert tells TechBeacon:

“Testers perform non-obvious functions that push an application in different directions, often where it was never intended to go. They believe in defects and don’t accept that bugs are fixed unless they have proof … Failing to find a bug the first time around means they need to execute tests with additional creativity."

3. Scheduling skills – Professional testers understand the schedule implications of being the last major effort in the development life cycle prior to go live. They understand the need for overtime and weekend work when it’s required to meet the schedule.

Your next project is only as good as your testing

A professional QA and testing team can help you achieve positive outcomes for changes across the digital landscape – including content, software, UI updates, automation and infrastructure – to ensure all the work is accurate. This helps you mitigate risk over the long term: By making an investment now, you’ll save money later by reducing your cost overruns and unforeseen bugs.

You’ll also be able to do more in a shorter time. It keeps your business resources and other nontechnical roles free to focus on how they deliver value to your organization (instead of getting pulled into QA work on an ad hoc basis).

If Vince and Larry taught us anything – besides the importance of seat belts – is the value of testing the right way. Ready to put a new team in the driver’s seat?

Pauly Leetz is the director of quality assurance at Veracity Consulting, a tech consulting team of problem-solvers and truth-tellers who deliver customized IT solutions for commercial and government clients across the U.S. Share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter @engageveracity.