For Whose Benefit is Quality Assurance?

Subcontracting software development and buying software solutions there is a custom set in stone that you are to buy both software development and testing from the same supplier. One potential reason for doing it this way is that it might feel arduous to cycle two suppliers in one project. Because, well, it also doubles the workload of project management. On the other hand, that might be seen as a benefit for software development: It would be more agile if the development and testing were to come from underneath the same roof.

Yet, often when one rationalizes this they forget the hard truth, which is revealed in an old Dilbert-strip in a funny way.

We have asked before, for whose benefit is testing when the supplier is also the tester of the product?

The problem space is not singular. A new article in Kauppalehti handles the failure of a cash register system project by Solteq. In this project, the testing was neglected in a very serious manner in every stage of the delivery chain:

The supplier is guilty, because it did not perform system testing in the product environment. On the other hand, the customer is guilty, because it did not look after its own interests by taking care of adequate lengths to quality assurance. In addition, the customer made its first inventory only half a year after the cash register system update.

An experienced testing expert would have used a few days’ work to make a safe plan on moving the system to the producing stage. If only the customer or the supplier had had the insight to ask a quality assurance expert about this, everyone would have spared a pretty penny.

Earlier, we claimed that customers of software projects should get themselves a quality police to look after their interests. In Solteq’s case, the court ruled that the system project supplier is in full accountability of the failure. The court also ruled that the supplier is to pay amends for both the project’s costs and the estimated losses for the customer. All in all, a software bug ended up costing 560.000 euro for Solteq instead of 8000 euro.

It was a bold move by Solteq to take this public. I believe that they have learnt their lesson, and that their quality assurance will be at a whole new level from that point onwards. Which is why I can recommend Solteq.

Becoming smarter due to the court ruling, we also correct the earlier claim:

Customer and supplier: Always ensure together that the quality assurance is made professionally and objectively. That, if anything, is for the benefit of all!

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Software testing

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