Most Common Enterprise Release Risk: Last Minute QA Testing
By Sean Hamawi
It's a "given" in software development - release schedules always slip. Requirements shift, developers underestimate timelines, and quality assurance (QA) finds unexpected defects. Another law of software development is that final release dates are often inflexible. If a market or a holiday shopping season defines your release date you understand how important it is to meet a fixed timeline.
Once you've promised a release to the business at the end of the quarter, you are under pressure to deliver software on time and under budget no matter how much your internal timelines have slipped. As a release manager, it is your job to make the best of a challenging situation and to find creative ways to bring a project to an on-time delivery.
As release deadlines near, IT management is often faced with a series of difficult decisions:
Usually, it's the last question that is answered affirmatively. QA timelines are compressed and QA managers are left with the task of regression testing software releases in a rush to make up for time lost during the development cycle. This "last-minute" approach to QA testing and verification is an industry-wide practice, and you can recognize it by the number of late-night, last-minute testing sessions that you see at your company.
To make matters worse, QA is frequently asked to test on shared environments that do not have the correct data to uncover problems in production. QA has to wait for environment setup and teardown that, in turn, leads to even more tightly compressed testing timelines. Compressed QA timelines? Testing on inadequate environments? All of these are recipes for greater production downtime and higher risk to the business.
How can you avoid these last-minute, late-night approaches to QA? Start by planning your test environments and release schedules in advance. QA timelines are often compressed because QA occupies the "transition point" between development and production. A development-driven IT department tends to underestimate the amount of effort required to qualify a release for production.
To protect your QA department from late-night, last minute QA - defend your schedule, organize your test environments, and keep track of your team's capacity.
Plutora provides solutions to manage test environments, organize your environments, and to keep track of your team's capacity. Our software has been designed to support the entire IT department and to organize the various teams associated with a software release.
In our experience, with the largest, most-challenging software releases, the QA department is asked to perform super-human tasks at the tail end of the development cycle. The team is asked to stay up all night to make up for time lost elsewhere, and they are often asked to wait multiple days while databases are refreshed. These problems can be avoided with better management, coordination, and planning and these capabilities are exactly what Plutora provides release managers, environment managers, and QA managers.
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