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This work was developed by the quality group of the Desoft Sancti Spíritus Computer Applications Company and as a result of the intense work of quality tests and reviews of software which have been developed in the last 2 years.
The main objective of this research is to carry out an important analysis of the indicators that must be managed and taken into account in a software quality testing laboratory, as well as their relevance within the business strategy to improve the internal management of such processes. Like: Software development and software testing itself.
The results are validated through a computer application that manages and visualizes information, achieving valuable results that demonstrate the effectiveness of the statistical data collected for decision making, associated with software development processes, innovation management and derivatives. This research was widely accepted by those involved, as it helps the continuous improvement of the company’s internal services, products and processes.
A few years ago, a national software testing laboratory was set up in the Desoft Computer Applications Company, with the objective of conducting quality reviews that allow said industry; on the one hand, objectively grant recognition to products; and on the other, generate objective and reliable information in the form of statistics and records that make it easier to increase confidence in software products. With the passage of time this objective has been extended as part of the vision of the team members and their commitment to the work, becoming recognition of software testers, the work of the laboratory itself, and what is useful of the information that is generated there for all the internal management of the organization.
Currently, the company does not have a complete and reliable database of people with some knowledge in tests, of all the products that are released by the quality group, of the versions of the products, etc. In the national software testing laboratory of Desoft, all these aspects are to be made known to managers, whether of knowledge management, innovation management, and any other interested party, thus allowing to generate statistics on the current conditions of the company and facilitate actions that can improve them and be more effective towards the current market. It is also the objective of the laboratory to generate and share quality metrics, receive support and exchanges with strong entities in this regard and publicize the results as they are obtained.
Regardless of the important data that is collected as part of the tests, say: the effectiveness or not of a given test, the density of the defects found, the severity or rework defects, just to name a few, there are other data which are also collected almost imperceptibly and that until now were considered inconsequential outside the closed frame of the test laboratory. Among these aspects are, for example, the effectiveness of the tester, the errors according to the technology used, the errors according to the review categories, the types of applications reviewed, the geographical regions with more or less errors, etc. All this may seem unimportant, but when you run a software company with geographically remote external dependencies, with characteristics of somewhat different markets, different infrastructures, scarce strictly specialized personnel and many others, you can say that nothing in inconsequential, everything Detail is important in order to know how to guide the correct production of the entity.
But: Is that information used properly? Does it become objective information for the rest of the company? Is this information shared interactively outside the scope of the laboratory itself? These were some of the questions that were asked of each other, a team of testers from the Desoft Computer Applications Company with the objective of outsourcing information and providing important results to other processes that were not exclusively productive and development processes; but processes of quality, innovation, management and others.
In this sense, a computer tool is used to manage part of the laboratory information and provide it in a timely manner to those who may be interested in the entity, say managers, deputy directors, commercial and human resources specialists, among others.
This work is intended to show the results obtained by the test laboratory of the Desoft Computer Applications Company, which has been in continuous operation for 3 years and is obtaining important results within the company. Interesting data on statistics of the laboratory and its members are shown, making them available to everyone.
Software testing (software testing) is based on empirical and technical research that allows us to provide objective information about the quality of the application to interested parties. They are a critical part of the quality control process and that is why software tests cannot be underestimated if you want to guarantee a quality product to users.
The tests are basically a set of activities within the software development, these activities can be implemented at any time during the development process, depending on the type of tests. There are different test models, each one corresponding to a different level of involvement in development activities.
In this sense they are like 2 large groups, the functional testing that involve functional requirements (RF), for which test cases are designed and executed and the system tests that focus on the non-functional requirements (RNF) of the system but that add great value to it, such as: security, reliability, availability, performance among others.
The activities related to software testing are currently offered as a trend in software companies since, in a software development process, after the analysis, design and at some point in the development of the application, the testing stage must begin. For this, an isolated environment from that of development is necessary, that is, the execution of the application should be simulated in an identical environment where it will be executed and create the minimum conditions to be able to simulate the scenarios as close to reality as possible.
These environments, commonly known as software testing laboratories, are independent of the development department, (although they work and have much in common) and there are cases that are thought from the point of view of a user of the system. Bearing in mind that lots of computer applications, lots of staff, different application deployment environments, different infrastructures, and so on, are managed, it can be thought that a software testing lab is an incessant source of data which as a whole can become valuable information for the entire organization and technicians in general.
Based on the analysis of the main characteristics of the company and the test laboratory in question, elements related to knowledge management, quality management and strategic management were analyzed, all aspects that contribute to the achievement of efficiency and effectiveness in the entities. The disciplines of organizations considered intelligent were deepened, as well as international standards and quality standards adopted by SMEs.
The Desoft computer applications company can be classified by its characteristics within the group of small and medium enterprises, it has a well-defined program of knowledge management that involves all workers, which promotes both internal and external training of its specialists, as well as the tools to socialize and outsource the tacit knowledge of its workers.
From another perspective, it also has a clear strategic management, its vision and mission is correctly defined, as well as all the objectives that fulfill them with their respective indicators of efficiency and effectiveness. It focuses its services and products to a large extent on its corporate purpose, but without losing sight of customers and their needs, since they are, after all, its main engine. In the case of the management of Innovation and Quality there are numerous deficiencies because they are not clearly defined or implemented policies for them, there is no staff dedicated to these tasks and it is not given the deserved importance.
However, during the last 3 years there have been isolated but successful actions regarding the quality management system, an aspect that was almost entirely absent within the entity and that has taken a very important boom within it. .
One of the most important elements that have materialized after the attempts to create a quality management system, are the testing of software products and services, this element was part of an advanced one that included those processes that were directly linked to production, because they are undoubtedly the ones that add the most added value to the company’s success in the social context; then in a second phase, the internal processes of the organization would be included as support elements for the productive processes but with great weight in the achievement of quality products and services.
Specifically, the previous idea materialized with the creation of a software testing laboratory. It has the objective of being a final filter and releasing those products developed in the company that intend to be part of its portfolio of official products or created for marketing purposes nationwide. The aforementioned laboratory in question has peculiar characteristics inherited from the organization that hosts it, such as: low testing staff, all roles are concentrated in the same person, its members are geographically isolated, in some cases they do not have differentiated preparation as engineers In software tests and some others, this makes it even more important to know all those aspects that allow to correctly manage the roles of these people to make the work more effective. The management of the laboratory is in the Desoft Sancti Spíritus territorial division with members from other provinces such as Havana, Ciego de Ávila and Holguín. They have a working methodology, defined procedures for internal, release and acceptance tests, several types of tests are performed such as exploratory, functional, system, test files are prepared and there are also quality reports after each review stage. and after the final release of the products.
All the elements mentioned above are known by the rest of the company through a report made by the head of laboratory and that often lacks relevance due to the lack of opportunity with which it is issued or the ignorance of it by those purely productive people, who decide and plan development and research projects. That is why, as part of an initiative of the quality group of the territorial division Sancti Spíritus, the idea of materializing laboratory indicators that serve as a basis for decisions of other important areas within the company such as innovation management, knowledge and the strategic vision.
These indicators will be exposed in a web application of the entity, easily accessible and that will be public for all divisions of the company making your daily consultation help the productive and innovation management of them.
Taking into account the perspectives analyzed and described above, a set of indicators are proposed that add value to each of them and give a faster and more concise view of their effectiveness.
Among the indicators that may be effective in this area are undoubtedly the labor competencies of the workers and any material considered as training that can be used for the guided or individual training study.
In this sense, the following elements are provided by the test laboratory:
- Tester effectiveness.
- Quarterly evaluation of the tester.
- BD with expert test staff.
- Knowledge of software quality by provinces, sources of acquisition, etc.
- Evidence file
These elements help to:
- Detect leaders. This activity seeks to recognize the soft skills of the people who; With greater knowledge in the field, they are able to lead work teams under the explained conditions of geographical distance and poor knowledge, breaking the traditional traditional equipment schemes. This culture of leadership fosters the aspirations of training of the members under the leadership of the leader, as well as the interest in coordinating the work and making diagnoses to both projects and staff, among others.
- Form documentary base. This activity is oriented to leave written evidence and subsequent consultation by the interested parties, of all the documentation that is generated during the tests and that are part of the file of the same. In this way you can keep track of the test process by managers and also serve as a study and improvement for future members of the work team.
From this perspective, elements focused mainly on software products themselves and the needs of markets by region of the country, among others, are provided. In this sense, some of the elements provided by the laboratory management are:
- Database with the released products.
Of these products you have:
- Type of product: (management (economic, productive, HR), educational, portals, multimedia)
- Technologies: (programming languages, database languages, frameworks)
- Versions: (describing in each moment the characteristics of it)
- Product sheet: (document that describes the product in greater depth and specificities).
- Most used technologies
- Technologies by provinces.
- Number of product iterations.
- Number of nonconformities (NC) of the product and its associated artifacts.
- Percent of NC by categories (Documentation, application, design, training material).
- Percent of NC by technologies used.
- Provinces / Products released.
- Amount of NC by provinces.
These elements help to:
- Innovation management. The activity of innovation of products and services can be affected by these elements since they can, for example, make decisions about the use of one or another technology for certain types of projects, there is also knowledge of all the products released in the company and what they are for, which avoids repeated developments of applications for similar purposes and encourages the evolution of existing ones; It helps assess whether or not an application should be migrated to another technology in future versions; among other.
- Project management This activity is nurtured by obtaining information on regions of the country stronger in one or another technology, or in a specific type of project and orienting there the appropriate market strategy. It is decided which project can be a new development or is simply an evolution of an existing product, this makes the management of resources (human and technical) within a project more effective and helps to guarantee its success.
This perspective is considered intangible for many companies and although there is something true in their little palpable results, there is no doubt that it provides very significant contributions that ensure and control the production and development processes, finally guaranteeing that the quality of their products is shown and services. Oriented to this, a software testing laboratory is an inexhaustible source of elements that provide a company’s vision of quality in every way, which is why all the above elements and many more are part of this perspective.
There will be mentioned, therefore, some that mainly contribute to the internal quality of the organization’s processes, such as:
- Customer complaints (quarterly and annual).
- Complaints vs. products.
- Complaints vs. services.
- Results of the verifications of the services.
- Results of customer satisfaction surveys.
- Results of internal process reviews
These elements help to:
- Quality management. It allows continuous improvement on processes and services based on corrective actions and lessons learned. It promotes the culture of quality through organized work, constant reviews.
- Form documentary base. They help by recording all the reviews that are carried out on processes and services, such as minutes, review reports, surveys and complaints records.
This initiative has been having some results that are already asserted in the Desoft Sancti Spiritus division and that are shown as an example of everything explained above. These results have significance in the strategic decisions of the entity, and are already available for analysis and discussion by all relevant parties. Next, Figure 1 is shown that represents the effectiveness and margin of error of the testers taking into account the number of nonconformities that they detect and that percent of them are canceled.
From another perspective it has been possible to show the different types of products that have passed through the laboratory and which have predominated.
In this sense there are also what have been the predominant technologies, even with a weighting of them according to the provinces that use them.
The products released by provinces and the amount of nonconformities detected in each case are also vitally important to assess the effectiveness of the development process and the associated technology.
The above is corroborated with the following graph that shows that Villa Clara is the province with the lowest average nonconformities (NC) per application released.
The management of a test laboratory is extremely useful in business management, well beyond knowing the quality indicators of products, services and corresponding devices. It provides important elements that can be managed to provide more effective knowledge management, innovation, quality and strategic management itself.
The data shown in this report have been received with great acceptance by the managers of the Desoft Sancti Spíritus Territorial Division with the intention of nourishing the company and the division of important elements that must be taken into account in order to decision making and the strategic approach to computerization within the entity and all its dependencies.
It is up to the managers to convert this information into a mandatory consultation to measure the quality of the organization.